I am writing this message to you having just returned from NFG’s final all-staff gathering of 2023. We met in New Orleans to celebrate the organization’s accomplishments over the past year; engage staff in our organizational development and transition process; and spend some in-person time planning for 2024 and deepening our relationships as a team. Change presents both challenges and opportunities for growth, and time like we just had as a team in New Orleans to pause and mark that progress is so precious. I am proud to close the year out with a strong staff team and knowing we have made big strides in our leadership transition work.
In my end-of-year 2022 newsletter, I spoke about how the initial months of my journey as Interim President had been filled with an abundance of support and connection from NFG’s community of members. And a year later I remain so grateful for the ability to lean on those relationships — with staff, Board, and members — to support my clarity of purpose, and for meaningful support in the day to day.
Looking back over this past year, I see it in two parts — in the early part of 2023, our team focused much of our energy internally to tend to gaps in staffing, shore up our leadership team, and invest in stability amidst change. We brought on several new team members to provide programmatic leadership and bolster our infrastructure. We continued to deliver programming, but more and more of it was back to in-person, reigniting that connection members feel in IRL NFG spaces. And, all of the work that happened in that period was in support of preparing for our first in-person convening since 2018.
NFG’s 2023 National Convening in Wilmington, NC kicked off a second part of the year that felt like a ‘re-emergence’ of sorts — we were able to strategize, learn, and celebrate together in person, to leverage relationships among our network towards our shared purpose. We took advantage of being the hosts to prioritize a conversation that we hope helped to normalize the journey of workplace democracy that so many nonprofits and philanthropic organizations — including NFG! — are on. Jointly, Maurice Mitchell of Working Families Party (check out his article on Building Resilient Organizations), Amy Smoucha of Listening Tree Consulting (and who co-authored this Beyond Neutrality report), and Nicole Washington - a member of NFG’s staff union, with the moderation of Sarita Gupta of Ford Foundation, shed light on the complexities of unionization in social justice organizations, and the ways philanthropy can better support groups who are unionizing to do so in a more resourced way. Later in the convening, NFG members Jay Travis of Needmor Fund and Farhad Ebrahimi of Chorus Foundation led a funder organizing training to equip participants to make more powerful contributions towards transforming philanthropy and moving resources more effectively. Engagement in the room and feedback following the convening tell us this is exactly the type of activation NFG membership is hungry for more of.
As I reflect on this year, I feel excited about the work ahead in 2024. True to NFG fashion, as we continue to steadily move through the transition work, we will also partner with members to create timely, powerful programming. We invite you to join us for some of these offerings early in the new year:
In 2024 our Member Calls will look different, offering spaces for members to share what they’re working on, tools they’re using, things they’re grappling with, or their ideas for co-conspiring more with the NFG community. Our first member call of the year on January 24 will feature Butler Family Fund, Hill-Snowdon Foundation, and JustFund to introduce a tool that helps funders move more money to their grantees. Our second member call on February 20 will be a robust conversation between Compton Foundation, Decolonizing Wealth Project, and Liberation Ventures about reparations and reparative actions. Funders: if you have a topic you’d like to present to NFG’s membership in the new year, please contact Courtney Banayad.
February 21: The 2024 Rural Equity Summit hosted by NFG’s Integrated Rural Strategies Group is a flagship event designed for funders to leave with actionable learnings and new relationships to catalyze and expand their understanding of how funding rural communities is critical to advancing justice.
February 26: The newly launched Connection, Learning, and Strategy Sessions, a core component of NFG's Midwest Organizing Infrastructure Funder programming, are bi-monthly 90-minute virtual meetings for funders to strategize, learn, and build community in ways that strengthen their ability to move more resources to Midwest grassroots organizing. Sessions will resume in February, and this event page will be updated with the latest information on each session.
March: NFG's Funders for a Just Economy (FJE) will be launching its third Racial Capitalism Community of Practice cohort to continue our work organizing funders toward a shared understanding of racial capitalism, how it impacts our work in philanthropy, and what we can do to disrupt the extractive economy. More information about the application process will be shared in early January.
March 26-28: FJE will also host its annual Network Strategy Meeting which will be held virtually in late March.
April: NFG's Values Aligned Investment Praxis Group will launch its second cohort in April. The Values Aligned Investment Praxis Group, provides a dedicated space for foundation leadership to learn and experiment with a group of trusted peers who aim to shift their endowment investments into greater alignment with their institutional missions. To learn more about the cohort, please join us for a webinar in February (date TBA in January).
We are excited to announce more general programming and political education in 2024. Stay tuned for more information on upcoming quarterly webinars. We will also share resources and publications ongoing on our website so check in regularly!
By the time I write to you again at the end of 2024, I expect we will be readying ourselves for the end of a significant period of transition for the organization, and in an active search for new leadership for NFG. We will be stronger and more steady, but surely more deeply rooted in our core purpose — to liberate philanthropic resources towards racial, gender, economic, disability, and climate justice. I know that work happens most powerfully in community, and I close the year grateful for all of you, our community who powers the collective work of NFG.
We wish you a restful end of year break and look forward to continued co-conspiring with you in 2024!