2021 Year in Review
2021 was an historic year in many ways, for philanthropy and for the people and communities we care about.
It was a year of loss and heartache as families and communities continued to suffer the effects of the pandemic and many other hardships. It was a year of advocacy to advance equity—a force that hopefully is only gaining in momentum. And it was a year of investment as the federal government dedicated historic new resources to pandemic recovery, infrastructure and other priorities.
For the Council on Foundations, 2021 was a year of renewal and action as we supported members to navigate these changes and embraced a bold new vision for the future.
The cornerstone of the Council’s 20-year vision announced in Julyis to ensure that philanthropy is a trusted partner in advancing the greater good now and for generations to come. Our strategic direction sets a course for building trust at a time when trust in institutions is at an all-time low. In our deeply divided nation, rebuilding trust has never been more important, which is why a key priority of our strategy is building common ground.
Of course, having a vision and strategic direction is one thing; executing it is what really counts. As we set out to be of greatest service to all of you, we worked in 2021 to strengthen the Council’s core services for our members.
We worked to create community and connection in virtual spaces, through gatherings including Leading Together 2021, Policy Summit and HR Retreat. The Council also provided ongoing workshops and trainings on urgent issues from supporting employees in a pandemic environment to navigating restrictions some countries are imposing on giving by U.S. foundations. And, we brought philanthropic executives together with Congressional and White House leaders so our field’s expertise could be heard amid the whirlwind of federal action on various issues.
We also developed knowledge and resources that members need to improve your practice and increase trust. Among the new resources we made available in 2021 was an updated (and very timely!) guide on public policy and advocacy for grantmakers and a paper on values-aligned philanthropy. That paper is part of a broader project exploring how philanthropy can prevent funding hate and take a powerful stand against anti-democratic extremism. Meanwhile, our Legal team worked to help members respond to issues from hardship and disaster relief assistance to facilitating giving under expanded tax benefits.
In other 2021 work, we advanced the goals of diversity, equity and inclusion through programs like Career Pathways, which has been accelerating the careers of diverse professionals across philanthropy for more than a decade. And, we continued to help members adopt the philanthropic best practices at the core of the 2020 global pledge issued by the Council and our sector partners, including the provision of more unrestricted support to nonprofits and the streamlining of our grant processes.
As another year begins, I want to thank all of our members for everything you’re doing to build trust in your foundations and our sector as a whole. Please know that the Council is committed to supporting your efforts to advance the greater good.
With appreciation and admiration,