NFG's 40 Years Strong virtual convening series celebrated four decades of mobilizing philanthropy and brought funders together to explore what is possible in the current era of organized philanthropy.

The series began with our 40 Years Strong plenary session on People, Place and Power, followed by our Accountability and Philanthropy's Role plenary focused on philanthropy's responsibility to be accountable to communities of color and low-income communities. The series continued with member-led sessions throughout the rest of 2020, exploring a broad range of topics including: technologies for liberation; Black-led powerbuilding & organizing; the role of land in our social movements; community-led solutions to neighborhood violence; participatory grantmaking models; and the collaborative leadership of young people of color.

These sessions brought funders together to find co-conspirators, boldly strategize, and shift power & money so that Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities and low-income communities thrive.

Check out the Resources tab above to view recordings, transcripts, and additional materials!

Technologies for Liberation: Moving Toward Abolitionist Futures 


Funders increasingly have an analysis of how criminalization is affecting communities of color and how grassroots organizers are challenging it. What’s often missing in philanthropic analysis, however, is the role that technology is playing in deepening criminalization via new tactics of surveillance, policing and control. From the development of “digital prisons,” with electronic monitors expanding the reach of the carceral state, to tech companies colluding with ICE to expand surveillance and enable detention and deportation of migrant communities, to the FOSTA-SESTA laws that deploy internet censorship to make working conditions for sex workers more precarious, technology is is propelling and extending the mass criminalization of our communities.

Social justice movements are fighting back. They are exposing these systems of surveillance and policing via #NoDigital Prisons and #NoTechforICE, while defending and protecting their communities through physical and digital security strategies. Yet this work often falls through the cracks in philanthropy, with neither social justice nor technology-focused funders having a full analysis of how this system is working and what the points of intervention are. There is a pressing need for more resources for grassroots organizers to confront the repressive use of technology against their communities and movements. Centering the voices of organizers leading this work, this session highlighted the solutions they are putting forward and engaged participants in discussion about how issues of technology and criminalization intersect with their funding strategies. View the recording and check out resources shared during the session on the Resources tab above.

Get It Together: How the Amplify Fund Supports Black-led Power Building and Organizing


  • Chi-Ante SingletaryNorth Carolina/South Carolina Consultant, NFG's Amplify Fund
  • Melody BakerSenior Program Officer, NFG's Amplify Fund
  • Edie BlakesleeVice President of Grantmaking & Community Leadership, Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina
  • Tami Spann, Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, Hollingsworth Funds
  • Rini Bannerjee, President, Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation

For 40 years NFG has been bringing funders who believe in the power of people to transform communities together to exchange ideas and build relationships. Since 2018 we have honed in on our core purpose of moving more money to grassroots organizations in partnership with 11 NFG members through our first pooled grantmaking fund, the Amplify Fund. Driven by the belief that community power is the key driver of just and equitable development, Amplify makes flexible general operating support grants in 8 places across the US and today directly supports more than 45 grantees, the majority of which are Black-led organizations. Racial justice grounds Amplify’s grantmaking strategy and our values, behavior and practices. Together we actively learn and reflect to make sure we are truly creating an internal racial justice (anti-racist) culture that supports our external racial justice goals. We are striving to work in a way that pushes philanthropy to be more aligned with what Black-led movements know it will take to win.

This interactive Zoom session was an opportunity to learn more about Amplify’s funding model, including organizing to realize a vision for racial justice philanthropy, where power is shared, roles are clear, funding is flexible, and funders are organizers too! Participants heard directly from a member of Amplify’s staff and Steering Committee as well as a local strategy advisor and many grantees too. View the recording and check out resources shared during the session on the Resources tab above.

What's Land Got to Do With It? The Role Land Plays in Our Social Movements: Past, Present, & Future 


  • Dara CooperExecutive Director, National Black Food and Justice Alliance
  • Dawn PhillipsExecutive Director, Right to the City Alliance
  • Rowen White, Program Director, Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance
  • Kellie Terry, Senior Program Officer, Surdna Foundation
  • Alison Corwin, Senior Program Officer, Surdna Foundation

This session sought to make space and learn from frontline leaders working at the intersection of climate justice, sovereignty and land justice. The conversation acknowledged the history and current work of the Land Justice Movement while exploring the relationships on the ground that are paving the way for future generations to advocate for transformative change as we face systemic racism and the dire realities of climate change.

The Civil Rights Movement and other struggles for racial justice never ended. Today, climate change is exacerbating the existing and growing inequities and injustices that people have always been fighting against in the name of freedom.

We heard from leaders that are centering land amidst a myriad of challenges black and brown communities are facing – housing and food insecurity, joblessness, disaster capitalism — all at once, every single day. We do not always have the opportunity to talk about land as the connection between these issues; both as a mechanism to enslave and oppress people but also used to build and support civilizations and thriving communities.

Leaders from intersecting social movements shared how they build daily infrastructure that allows folks to invest in their own communities while supporting sustainable power building efforts. This work looks very different depending upon the entry point and this session was designed for folks from a diverse spectrum of interests to engage and connect to address climate justice, sovereignty and land justice. View the recording and check out resources shared during the session on the Resources tab above.

We Keep Us Safe: Advancing Community-led Solutions to Neighborhood Violence 


  • Amoretta MorrisDirector of National Community Strategies, Annie E. Casey Foundation
  • April GoggansCore Organizer, Black Lives Matter DC
  • Alise Marshall, Director of Strategy and New Ventures, Public Welfare Foundation
  • Columbus Ward JrChair, Neighborhood Planning Unit-V, & Executive Director, Peoplestown Revitalization Corporation

Violence is the largest of all health disparities. Black people experience violent deaths at six times the rates of whites. As we seek equitable development, we must do it in partnership with neighborhood residents who live at the intersection of both intracommunal violence and police violence. The predominant investments in safety approaches have been in law enforcement and justice systems.

These strategies have been ineffective in solving the problem, while also creating new problems through mass incarceration and its impact on communities. Meanwhile, investments in community solutions for safety and violence prevention have been nowhere near what is needed to match the scale of the problem. Even as community-oriented intervention solutions are working in locales across the country, they have not gained the traction needed for widespread transformative change — from an over-reliance on criminal justice approaches to public health-oriented approaches. Philanthropy has increasingly stepped up to address the structural drivers of violence such as economic disinvestment. These long-term solutions are necessary but not sufficient. By solely focusing on them, it frames community violence as an issue that cannot be directly addressed in the short-term. In fact, long-term policy solutions should be advanced simultaneously with direct approaches that lower deaths and shootings immediately.

This session lifted up the role of local community organizers in DC and Atlanta who have successful advocated for proven, non-police-based violence intervention models, such as violence interruption, and the local and national funders who have partnered to support that work. View the recording and check out resources shared during the session on the Resources tab above.

Philanthropy is Embedded in the Paradox of Capitalism 


Philanthropy is embedded in the paradox of capitalism — benefitting from the economic system, while attempting to mitigate and ameliorate its damaging effects. In recent years, prominent thinkers like Edgar Villanueva, Rob Reich, David Callahan, and Anand Giridharadas are challenging the systems that support philanthropy. At the same time, there are larger societal trends and pressures demanding transparency and accountability across sectors, including within philanthropy.

Community-based or participatory grantmaking challenges traditional power structures by centering marginalized, often excluded, voices in grantmaking decisions. This approach centers the lived experiences and expertise of those most impacted by grant decisions. A growing number of foundations nationally have have adopted this powerful approach, which is strongly aligned to the goal of supporting community-based efforts. The practice of participatory grantmaking asserts that those with lived experience have critical expertise. This approach is gaining traction in philanthropy; Inside Philanthropy named is as the most promising sector reform in 2018.

The interactive session began by gauging participants’ understanding of the topic while they explore their values in philanthropy. Panelists examined why it is critical to break down traditional funder barriers in favor of participation, transparency, accountability, and collaboration. The panel also spoke extensively about the “how” of participatory grantmaking and share several specifics and resources to equip funders to make similar changes in their own institutions. By the end of this engaging session, participants had a strong awareness and understanding of why this approach matters, as well as how they might lead these transformations themselves. View the recording and check out resources shared during the session on the Resources tab above.

Youth of Color Taking the Lead: Collaborative Leadership and the Path to Power 


Young people have been at the forefront of movements for liberation throughout history, advancing critical issues like climate change, reproductive rights, immigration, criminal justice, and election protection and voter engagement. Yet, only 5% of foundation funding goes to communities of color centered work, and even less than that to youth — especially youth of color — and for organizing approaches. Shifting the philanthropic landscape requires funders to expand their thinking about grantmaking and the leadership of youth of color.

This session provided an inside look at local and state infrastructures, leadership development, state and national collaborations, and shared leadership models propelled by young people of color to build a multi-racial democracy and transform American politics. Additionally, participants explored findings by the Youth Engagement Fund on how youth of color-focused groups use issue-based organizing to engage members and new & infrequent voters; how the youth civic engagement coalition is creating a shared space for messaging, alignment, and coordination; the impact of early investment received in preparation for 2020; and the plans to catalyze on the energy of the political moment in 2020 and for long-term power building. View the recording and check out resources shared during the session on the Resources tab above.

2020 National Convening Series: 40 Years Strong Kickoff Week

NFG's virtual convening series kicked off in June and July with hundreds of people joining us for two plenaries, gatherings of the Philanthropy Forward Fellowship cohorts and Amplify Fund steering committee, a happy hour to celebrate the Discount Foundation Legacy Award winners (featuring DJ Carmen Spindiego!), and strategy sessions hosted by NFG's Democratizing Development Program and Integrated Rural Strategies Group.

Check out recordings, transcripts, and additional materials from our plenaries on Accountability & Philanthropy’s Role and what’s needed in this political moment to support People, Place, and Power.

Event Details


Jun 29, 2020