Imagination & The Future of Philanthropy

Imagination is the core of what we do – we imagine a future, we imagine ways to build it, we imagine the tools we need and the blueprints to get there. People of color have, historically, been tasked with the beauty and burden of imagination. We have gotten to imagine new futures and paid the emotional, mental, and physical price of building them. 

This is why receiving a grant from Mackenzie Scott is such an important piece of imagination. Scott has been on a mission to redistribute her wealth as quickly as possible – and in doing so, setting a model of what it means to practice philanthropy. 

Mackenzie Scott, Dan Jewett, and their team do not solicit long grant applications – there is no long and arduous process of grant writing which takes up valuable time on already strained teams. In understanding the imbalance of power in the traditional grant making model, Scott and her team put the onus on themselves to do the research and due diligence to make their grants. We wrote a letter of introduction and had a few phone calls with researchers. No minimum or maximum character limits, or re-writing yet another budget to fit a template that makes it easier for grantmakers to read. 

Mackenzie Scott’s grant allows us not only to imagine new possibilities (more capacity!), but gives us the space to ask other funders, organizations, and philanthropists to imagine with us. It asks that funding bodies listen to their grantee partners, create equitable processes, and remove as much red tape and bureaucracy as possible. It gives organizations like ours and so many others the space to reject harmful and toxic practices that are all too common in philanthropy. Practices that do not take into consideration the creativity of communities like ours, or the lived experience and the systems of oppression that make it difficult for organizations led by and accountable to BIPOC communities to compete for precious funding dollars. 

This grant also validates what we are doing at Donors of Color – both the overall work, as well as how we have set up our 501c4, Donors of Color Action, to move resources. In our rapid response work, we use an advisory committee to sign off on organizations to receive resources from our Power Funds. These organizations are researched and vetted by our team initially before being submitted for consideration by the advisory committee, made up of members and movement leaders. This places the onus on us to not only do our due diligence but to trust. 

Part of imagining a new future for people of color is built on trust. We require allies and partners that trust our experiences, our perceptions, our skills, and our creativity. As a cross-racial community built along the multitudes of community and individual intersections, we put our trust in each other to imagine our collective future and work towards our collective liberation. 

A big thanks to all of you for trusting our collective imagination – we are excited to build this future with you.

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