Commitment To Equity & Justice

In June 2020, we made a number of commitments acknowledging TPW’s role and responsibility to challenge racism and systemic injustice. In the spirit of transparency and accountability, we would like to share our learnings from the past year and to recommit to this work going forward, acknowledging that this is an ongoing process, and we still have a lot of work to do.

First, we remain convinced that racial equity and justice is core to our mission and vision for systemic change. Our community invests in a range of areas from climate change to human rights, but regardless of the cause area, we see inequity and injustice as root causes that hold us back. Race and power are not narrow issue areas we can choose to invest in or not; they are built into the very systems we work in and we want to transform. That means that investing in equity and justice is crucial to move us towards our vision: that every community in the world has the resources it needs for our people and planet to thrive.

Second, we believe that when social investors acknowledge systemic racism and listen and learn from racial justice partners, together we can become a signal for What Works for positive change. We have direct experience supporting those with power and privilege to go beyond performative allyship and become genuine advocates. It is not simple or easy work—the process of individual and social change requires conscious awareness, taking risks, mobilizing resources, advocating for change with peers, sharing power and listening to leaders with lived experience. Given the intersectional nature of power across race, gender, class and social networks, it is no coincidence that all of these principles are also core to our understanding of What Works in strategic philanthropy. As a global network of strategic investors with enormous potential to accelerate change, we acknowledge our responsibility to commit to these principles as we learn and grow. 

Third, we have taken steps to build a shared understanding of how strategic philanthropy needs to transform in order to support systemic change. As part of the initiative to center equity and justice, we built programming around the theme of Trust and Truth and explored best practices including trust-based approaches, supporting movement-building, committing to transparency and accountability, aligning investments with core values, and funding movements and organizations led by black, indigenous and people of color. We have also iterated our Strategic Roadmap, the framework upon which we build all TPW programmes, to center power-sharing and collaboration more explicitly as core principles guiding our work.

Fourth, we have seen that it is possible to mobilize resources quickly when united by a common cause. 67% of our members surveyed in August of 2020 stated that they had shifted their strategy and increased funding for equity and justice, global health and strong democratic systems. We are encouraged by the progress made across our community and the sector more broadly, and commit to building on this momentum in 2022, when our Global Summit and wider programming will be guided by the theme of Justice & Transformation.

Fifth, we have affirmed the importance of examining our own mindsets and practices as part of this learning journey. We are committed to going beyond programming and investing in a multi-year process of cultural exploration and change. We are moving forward on this journey, including by growing and diversifying our community and initiating a multi-year review of our organizational culture that will include staff, Board, members and partners. We are energised by the knowledge that a more diverse community bringing new perspectives, ideas and experiences will help us to multiply our impact in the world.

Finally, we have learned to embrace everything that comes with this work: the complexity and the discomfort—but also the joy. We know that there is no single right way of challenging injustice, and that we have to take ownership of our own journey. We know this means asking hard questions about the power and privilege we have as a community and as individuals within that community, and leaning into the discomfort that can bring. While there are no quick fixes, there is an abundance of leaders challenging injustice that we can learn from and amplify. We are inspired by these leaders and emboldened by the historic opportunity we have, as individuals and as a community, to learn, grow and invest in systems that better serve our people and planet.

Based on the above learnings, we would like to recommit to the commitments made in 2020, and to add the following:

  • We commit to building our awareness of how racism and injustice inhibit the systemic change we want to see, and how justice-centred social investing can transform those systems;
  • We commit to continuing to learn from community leaders with lived experience of injustice and change, and to providing a platform to amplify their message;
  • We commit to deepening our examination of What Works for social investors to support systemic change in all our programs, including in our 2022 Global Summit on the theme of Justice and Transformation;
  • We commit to being explicit in our point of view around equity and justice, and to amplifying leaders in our community putting these principles into action;
  • We commit to continuing to diversify our Board and staff and to building an organizational culture of mutual learning, growth and support;
  • We commit to transparency, open communication and to being held accountable as we undertake this work;
  • We commit to investing time, energy and resources to this change process as a multi-year journey, acknowledging that discomfort is often required for progress.
Lisa Wolverton, Board Chair Renee Kaplan, CEO


A Signal Of Hope 2020

The global movement for racial justice has refocused our attention on our values and inspired us to reflect. The murder of George Floyd magnified deeply-rooted historical racial inequality and mistreatment. The protests are a painful cry from global citizens, not just for an end to police brutality, but for an end to structural racism and injustice. These cries have too long been denied, ignored, and discounted. It is time for all of us to step up and take action both in our organizations and in our personal lives.

TPW is a global network of social investors dedicated to helping nonprofit and community partners. We are in a fortunate position to accelerate positive social impact and progress. However, we must also acknowledge that we are firmly entrenched in the very systems that we are trying to make more just and more equitable. Many of us have been beneficiaries of high-quality education, easy access to capital, influential networks, intergenerational wealth, and socioeconomic structures that make wealth accumulation and philanthropy possible. 

TPW’s 25-year history is rooted in systems change. We were created to help philanthropists learn and work more collaboratively, to get proximate with communities to better understand ecosystem issues, and ultimately to give more strategically.  

Overall, we believe that communities—not philanthropists, not government, not businesses—know best what they need and how to collaborate to solve complex problems. And they deserve agency. They don’t want “top-down” solutions—they want strategic partnership, unrestricted funding, long term support, and funders that are smart enough to trust the leaders on the front lines and brave enough to use their influence and privilege for the benefit of others. 

Our mission is to mobilize a global network of strategic investors united by their commitment to unlocking resources, lifelong learning, collaboration, and entrepreneurial approaches. Our vision is that every community in the world has the resources it needs for our people and planet to thrive. Equity and justice are at the core of this mission and vision. The resources we deploy in our role as social investors—time, talent, treasure, and ties—come with responsibilities: power, privilege, and a platform to make a difference.  

Our Commitments:

We uphold equity as a basic human right underscoring everything we do. 

Social movements and organizations led by people of color are under-funded. We commit to unlocking resources to remedy this imbalance.

We all need to unlearn hidden biases and assumptions from our past. TPW is proud of our educational programs and track record in confronting racial injustice, but we commit to going further to address the root causes and biases in our own philanthropic system. That includes a thorough examination of our internal practices and governance.

Traditional philanthropy, while well-intended, can be a barrier to healthy change. Currently, too much money is on the sidelines, sitting in foundation endowments or DAFs when it should be deployed. Decision-makers are also predominantly white. We need to learn from more social investors of color so we can drive valuable solutions and create systems for a better future.

With a history of operating at the intersection of society, business, and government, we in the TPW Community hold ourselves accountable to the progress led by communities. We commit to transparently sharing the models, approaches, and best practices that actually work. That requires taking more risks to boldly communicate what doesn’t. 

We will continue to build a more diverse board and staff that better reflects the communities and neighborhoods we trust and support.

This is not just a moment, but a deep reckoning. We are ready to listen, to learn, to act, and to be held accountable. We do not have all the answers, but we believe TPW has a role to play in demonstrating how global problems and unjust systems can be changed, and how by working in humble collaboration, we can all be a signal of hope.

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