April 30, 2020

2020 National Convening update & more: NFG's April 2020 Newsletter

We hope that you are safe, supported, and healthy in this unprecedented public health and economic crisis. The NFG team has spent the last several weeks adjusting to this altered way of life — providing time off for staff, calling for social solidarity, urging funders to scale up and move money to communities of color on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, seeking ways to highlight the particular impact of this moment on communities of color, low-wage workers, disabled, Deaf, and ill communities — and thoughtfully considering how to shift our work and programs.

We had looked forward to bringing hundreds of funders from across the country together in Washington, D.C. for our 2020 National Convening to celebrate four decades of mobilizing philanthropy, as well as collectively look toward the future and what is possible in the current era of organized philanthropy.

With this message, we’re announcing that NFG will be pivoting to virtual offerings for our 2020 National Convening. While we are sad we won’t be gathering in-person, we made this decision because the health and safety of the NFG community is paramount and we have deepened our understanding of the disability justice practice to resist the pull and pressure of productivity at any cost. We are also mindful that community organizations and funders are working hard to respond in this moment.

Keep reading for more details on NFG’s 2020 Virtual Convening: 40 Years Strong.


 
NFG’S VIRTUAL CONVENING: 40 YEARS STRONG 

Since 1980, NFG has been a ‘political home’ for people in philanthropy: a place to connect, strengthen your analysis, and take action. We are committed to bringing funders together online with the same warm and inspiring spirit that is at the core of NFG gatherings, while accelerating our commitment to accessibility in virtual spaces. While we won’t be gathering in our founding city, Washington, D.C., to honor our original ‘Homecoming’ convening theme, we are still commemorating NFG’s 40th anniversary!
 

We will kickoff our virtual convening series with plenaries on our original dates: Tuesday, June 30 and Wednesday, July 1. These plenaries will focus on 40 years of power building and the current political moment and shifting accountability in philanthropy from boards to communities. We will also host additional convening webinars featuring member-led content throughout the rest of the year.


 

CONVENING REGISTRATION

If you’ve already registered for our convening and are in a position to donate your registration fees to NFG, this gesture will help us shift our programming to a virtual format and offset convening costs already incurred. We understand that not all of you are able to donate your registration fees and will issue a full refund to anyone who makes this request. To request a refund, please contact our Convening Logistics Consultants at registration@girlfridayevents.com by Friday, May 15. No additional action is needed to convert your registration fees to a donation.

If you haven’t yet registered but would like to participate in our virtual convening series, please stay tuned for updates in May.

For questions about sponsorships or accommodations, please visit our convening website for more details.


 

CONNECT WITH NFG & SHARE YOUR STORIES

Our celebrations of NFG’s 40th anniversary as a space to draw support as we propel philanthropy to shift power and money towards justice and equity will continue virtually!

To help us look back on our 40 dynamic years, we are collecting stories and memories from the NFG community to share at the end of 2020. If you have a story about how NFG has supported your philanthropic leadership, how our programming has deepened your political education, or how you found co-conspirators to move more resources to racial, economic, gender, and climate justice through the NFG community, we would love to hear from you! Please fill out this form to share your story.


 

Thank you for being part of the NFG community when moving resources to communities that disproportionately bear the brunt of this public health and economic disaster is vital — now and into the future.

In solidarity,

Adriana Rocha, Interim Co-Director

Shona Chakravartty, Hill-Snowdon Foundation, Convening Co-Chair and NFG Board Member

Mary Sobecki, Needmor Fund, Convening Co-Chair and NFG Board Member

 

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July 20, 2021

Transformative change, rooted in place: NFG's July 2021 Newsletter

Can you imagine what New York would look like if private equity funds weren’t evicting low-income renters? What about, if in the Washington, DC area, historically Black neighborhoods were not being gentrified by wealthy white people and behemoth-tech corporations like Amazon? What if, in Southern California, essential workers had the power to set policies that limit the environmental and health & safety impacts of warehousing?

These aren’t just dreams — Black, Indigenous, and people of color-led movements in New York, the DC area, Southern California, and beyond have imbued these visions for racial, gender, economic, and climate justice in their work towards transformative change. And in each place, local grassroots organizers are leading the way to ensure that our communities can thrive — with homes that working families can afford, jobs with livable wages, neighborhoods with clean air and access to water, and genuinely democratic systems.

We at NFG know that in order to achieve transformative and lasting social change, philanthropy must mobilize resources to Black, Indigenous, people of color, and migrant-led movements that are rooted in place. And funders at the national, regional, and local levels all have a role to play. There are no federal, state, Southern, or Midwestern strategies without supporting local action.

Learn and strategize alongside NFG about how your grantmaking can help build power in place:

Keep reading for full descriptions of these events and more resources from your community of co-conspirators at NFG.

Onwards,
The NFG team

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June 24, 2021

Reflections after my first year as NFG President: NFG's June 2021 Newsletter

I didn't choose my first leadership role — it chose me. As a child who emigrated from Mexico to Detroit with my family, I became my family’s language broker. I learned English the fastest, un-learned my accent the quickest as a survival mechanism, and learned how to navigate the systems for my family. I took this role with pride, resentment, and ambivalence. It wasn’t until I was in my early twenties that I began to understand and unpack this role, to see it as a leadership role that many immigrant children have.

As I’ve navigated my career, it has felt different to choose a leadership role consciously and with agency. In 2019, I chose (after some encouragement from my mentors) to apply for the position of NFG’s leader. I was ready to lead, not follow — the words from my long-time friend and mentor Denice Williams. After three years as NFG’s Vice President of Programs and nine months as interim co-director, May Day 2020 marked my first day as NFG’s President. I was ready to build upon the legacy of this team that had been led by Dennis Quirin for six years, and share my vision for NFG’s next iteration.

My first year as NFG’s leader was a rollercoaster: emotional, isolating, exhausting, a privilege, a gift, a chosen challenge. [For all my other BIPOC first-time Executive Directors and Presidents: I see you, I am with you. You got this. And when you feel like you don’t (or find yourself asking, ‘why did I want this?’), reach out to me. As one of my favorite leaders, Joanne Smith, from Girls for Gender Equity says: “we got us!”]

When I reflect on my first year in this role that coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic, racial justice uprisings, and navigating work & life in wholly new ways, the power of support and the power of space and spaciousness stand out as key lessons.

The power of support and asking for support:
 I have had what should be a nonprofit standard and unfortunately isn’t: a supportive Board of Directors and co-chairs who stayed present as they managed their own work and lives, and who didn’t scale down their involvement after the executive search and transition were completed. I had a board committee that worked with me during my first three months on my 90 day goals, professional development, and support needs. When I was managing a harder process that I felt needed more board support, I asked for it and got it. I also had my leadership coach and a peer coaching circle that kept me grounded and was witness to what I needed.

Launching NFG’s Senior Management Team with Sarita Ahuja, our Vice President of Operations, and Faron McLurkin, our Vice President of Programs, has provided me and NFG with the leadership team that best fits this organization. I have felt the support of NFG’s staff and our network of members by my side. These multiple layers of support got me through the hardest moments, steadied me when I felt out on a limb, encouraged me when I felt imposter syndrome creep in — and have filled what has been an ‘unconventional’ first year as NFG’s President with connection, camaraderie, and community.

The space to practice, think, be: As leaders, our time is in demand. Being a people-pleaser, and someone that was used to managing (and controlling) my own calendar, had me at times over the past year in 7-8 zoom meetings a day. I had little time to think, reflect, or follow up on the action items I named as next steps, let alone eat at regular times.

These pitfalls of being a new leader are all too common. When sharing this with my coach, she challenged me to reflect on what I would need to do to create radical spaciousness. Initially, this felt impossible. But with her challenge (I am an Aries, afterall), I felt an unlock: I hired a virtual assistant and she helped to protect my mornings and time to eat lunch; I found one day a month to have a meeting-free day for reflection and journaling; I began more fiercely resisting urgency and the white supremacist & capitalist notions that keeps us reacting & responding versus thinking & reflecting.

From the technical fixes to the larger adaptive challenges, I continue to commit myself and NFG to practice spaciousness. This spaciousness has helped think, write, and get clear on my priorities — and to become more rooted in the role of President. My body and my son urge me not to rush back to be on the road for 50 percent of my work/life, and to continue to lead with impact and spaciousness. This practice will inform a thoughtful approach for how and when to travel to reconnect with NFG’s staff and members at in-person meetings and convenings. And we at NFG have seen that we can be impactful, experimental, and creative virtually — all while moving money to movements.

The space to dream and reimagine: In our most recent Philanthropy Forward session, which brings together CEOs of foundations in a leadership cohort, we talked about what we would do if we were 10x bolder. I love this question and call as a leader to consider what the world and philanthropy would be like if we were more bold and our wildest dreams came true.

Last week, NFG received the gift of a $3 million unrestricted grant from MacKenzie Scott. This grant allows us to dream and reimagine what it looks like for NFG to be 10x bolder in holding philanthropy accountable to move more money and shift power to Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities, low-income communities and workers, rural communities, queer, trans, and gender non-conforming people, women, and immigrants. What a difference this makes to our work and the spaciousness; what a signal of support to our work and our staff, board, and member leadership.

As I embark on my second year as NFG’s leader, I carry my lessons on support and spaciousness — and I welcome your ideas for a 10x bolder NFG.

NFG is a place for philanthropy to strategize new and more ways to show up for our communities now and in the long-term; a place to move more money to racial, gender, economic, and climate justice; and a place that provides space to find your co-conspirators, draw strength, be nourished, reflect upon and celebrate the wins and work that has been accomplished so far.

What comes to mind when you imagine what it looks like for NFG to be 10x bolder in holding philanthropy accountable? Send me a note, reach out to the NFG team, join a Member Connection Call (the next one is June 29 and then we’ll take a break until September), learn alongside us and share your ideas at our events.

I look forward to continuing to be in community and solidarity with you.

Un abrazote!
Adriana Rocha
President

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