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When to Speak Out: Three Questions Foundations Might Consider

Woman with megaphone

In the days following the Trump administration’s Jan. 27 executive order to ban immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries, many social sector leaders confronted the question of whether to speak publicly about their organizations’ perspectives on the ban. One group of more than 190 philanthropic and philanthropy-supporting organizations decided to sign a joint statement that criticized the executive order and called for policies that “reflect our nation’s founding principles,

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How the Kresge Foundation Is Exploring Ways to Apply a Racial Equity Lens to Grantees’ Leadership Development

Portrait of a group of smiling coworkers standing in an office

By Isabelle Moses and Claire Fiser
Between 2003-2012 less than one percent of total foundation grant dollars went to leadership development investments. And, when you compare investment in leadership development across sectors, nonprofits invest an average of $29 per employee per year for leadership development compared to $129 per employee per year at for-profit businesses.
As one means to strengthen leadership development in the nonprofit sector, The Kresge Foundation

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The Case for Gender Equity in the Charitable Sector

Three women stand in front of a blue and white wall

The social sector has a gender equity problem. While women make up three-quarters of the sector workforce, they comprise only 16 percent of CEOs of nonprofits and foundations with budgets over $50 million.

This post was originally published in Gender Equity in the Charitable Sector Learning Guide, a collaborative project of the 2015-2016 American Express NGen Fellows, a program hosted by Independent Sector. This post represents one piece of

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Normalizing Inclusion: Why Culture Matters in Post-Election America

Since the election, it has felt as if we are living in unprecedented times. While we have long been challenged by divided politics, we are now experiencing something far more dangerous: the normalization of bigotry, xenophobia, racism and misogyny on a mass scale. Marginalized individuals and communities have had to deal with this prejudicial thinking for far too long. Many have fought to change the systems and mindsets that

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When Divisive Discourse Seeps into Nonprofits

This year ‘s political discourse has been brutal. Conversations between presidential candidates quickly turn into verbal warfare, scathing social media posts solicit scathing replies, and family gatherings can get heated. Rather than two-way conversations, these political dialogues often become “mutual monologues—laced with verbal Molotov cocktails designed not to invite reflection but to discredit the other position (or person).”

While this divisiveness is particularly heightened in politics right now, it also manifests in social sector organizations. Divisive discourse often stems from deep philosophical divides. These might emerge when an organization is adopting a new strategy, shifting program direction, navigating generational differences or determining which tactics to use to achieve goals. In these situations, “mutual monologues” can severely stunt an organization’s ability to drive transformational change.

Through our work, we’ ve learned the critical nature of communication and ways individuals can bridge philosophical divides. It takes specific actions with a dose of humanity—neither of which is as easy as it sounds.

How to Bridge Philosophical Divides

Check in: If you see divisive discourse in your organization, explore whether the root cause is connected to a fundamental difference in values or philosophies. Naming that difference will inform your

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4 Common Pitfalls of Implementing Strategy in Networks

Just like families, networks can simultaneously serve as a source of great strength and great challenges. For leaders working to develop and implement strategies within a networked structure, this can be especially true. How do you set goals across a network and build a shared commitment to achieve them? How do you drive performance without undermining innovation? How do you cultivate shared learning?

Networks are tremendously diverse, ranging from

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