Get serious about a systems approach — reflections on PRE’s ‘Mismatched’ report

SVPI 10/27/2021
A note from SVP International Director of Network Learning, Rachel Sample:

I’m not alone in knowing that measurement leads to movement, so I was excited to dive into the newest report from The Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity (PRE). Mismatched: The Philanthropic Response to the Call for Racial Justice is the most thorough assessment of racial equity and racial justice funding to date. This report grapples with how philanthropy is meeting this moment. It asks, what is the true state of racial equity and racial justice philanthropy?

I wanted to understand some of the news headlines about rapid growth in our sector, especially as it relates to racial equity and justice. I’ve been curious how those headlines are translating in the field and what tangible movement is happening for those most affected by systemic injustices.

As I dove into the information presented and listened to the authors last week at the PRE-hosted webinar, I was struck by the undeniable facts: Comparatively little overall funding is moving toward grassroots organizing and racial equity and racial justice. And this, despite the attention these areas have received and, frankly, the headlines claiming big investments in this area.

In our work to reimagine giving, we know that the nimble and responsive giving of individuals is often key to communities being able to advocate for the systems changes needed. My biggest takeaway from the report and webinar was this: Those participating in networks like ours can leverage tremendous change when giving multi-year, unrestricted, trust-based gifts to leaders doing systems-reimagining work. Not to say access to the existing system won’t yield certain gains. But investing in leaders of color and frontline leadership supports their ability to question the system itself. Ultimately, that’s how we change philanthropy as usual and heal what’s broken.

I welcome more conversation with you about this reflection and the report.

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