The past few years have been pivotal for philanthropy. In the midst of simultaneous health, economic, and racial justice crises, foundations and philanthropists have shown how flexible they can be to support the immediate needs of communities across the U.S. Despite this, there is still uncertainty about what philanthropy as a sector even is.
The sector exists in a narrative vacuum — a space where the lack of clear stories and abundance of ambiguous language allows different groups within and outside philanthropy to fill in the blanks with their own interpretations. As the sector works to respond to legitimate concerns, it — and foundations in particular — must also build its capacity to clearly describe the positive impact of the work, push back against false narratives, and build trust.
In this session, we’ll share insights from social, behavioral, and cognitive science about how the philanthropic sector can address this narrative vacuum. We will dive deeper into the harmful narratives that exist around philanthropy and what actions we can take now to not only increase our transparency, but also shift how we view our role in the larger social change community. Lastly, we will describe our research into finding better stories and better language.