Moving More Money, More Urgently… Tides Encourages Donors to Get Off Their Assets

At Tides, we believe that a just and equitable future can exist only when communities who have been historically denied power have the social, political, and economic power they need to create it. To make that a reality, we work in deep partnership with doers and donors to center the leadership of changemakers from these communities, connecting them to services, capacity building, and resources to amplify their impact.

This is the guiding star that keeps us on course, and as we recalibrate our efforts, it’s crucial to anchor them in our shared purpose.

We launched our “Get Off Your Assets” campaign in 2019 as a call to action to Tides DAF partners and other DAF providers to get serious about moving more money, more urgently to meet the needs of marginalized communities. And our partners answered the call. Led by pandemic response and election-related grantmaking, Tides 2020 grantmaking from Tides DAFs topped $458M, 75% more than in 2019. And that trend continued through 2022.

One striking example of GOYA in action is our spend-down rate. While private foundations hover around the 5% spend-down rate required by law, and other DAF providers usually have a spend-down rate of around 20% per year, our DAFs show an astonishing average spend-down rate of more than 70% per year. It’s a testament to the dynamic nature of our work and the activism of our inspiring community.

As we move into a new year, we encourage you to join us in keeping the fire of positive change burning bright. The issues we face in 2024 are more pressing than ever.

The increasing severity and frequency of climate disasters threatens the very fabric of our communities, and it’s an urgent call to action that we must answer.

Similarly, bodily autonomy and reproductive rights are under siege, and our commitment to fighting these attacks is unwavering.

In addition, we’re witnessing the rise of autocratic forces that challenge the democratic values we hold dear. It’s imperative for us to stand strong, united in our defense of democracy.

Critically, we know who is often overlooked in these battles. It’s the marginalized communities, the voices that are not heard loudly enough, the ones who are most impacted when rights are taken away, when the climate burns, and when our democracy and civil rights are under siege. 

Statistics from the Nonprofit Finance Fund’s 2022 State of the Nonprofit Sector Survey highlight disparities in funding: 41% of white-led nonprofits receiving 50% or more unrestricted funds compared to only 26% of BIPOC-led organizations. White-led nonprofits were also more likely to receive corporate donations: 71% versus 58% for BIPOC-led nonprofits. It’s a stark reminder of the work that lies ahead of us.

We have the greatest opportunity to push back against these threats by supporting grassroots, frontline, and marginalized leaders and communities. Through these local efforts, we can fight back against policy threats that aim to take away our agency over our voices, our bodies, and our vote.

Derek Poinsette (Takshanuk Watershed Council), Rebecca Bellmore (Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition), and Johnnie Gamble and Daniel Klanott with Chilkat Indian Village (Klukwan) install temperature monitors in important salmon spawning habitat in the Chilkat River watershed.

Takshanuk Watershed Council, a Frontline Justice Fund grantee, helping install temperature monitors in the Chilkat River watershed, an important salmon spawning habitat.

The urgency of our mission is underscored by economic uncertainties that have led to a decrease in donations, despite increases in consumer spending and a healthy, upward-trending stock market.

We must hold ourselves accountable. Movement leaders in our network and beyond have told us that 2023 has been the most challenging fundraising year in the past five years, and possibly the worst in their careers. Many organizations are forced to make difficult decisions, such as laying off staff and cutting budgets.

The recent Supreme Court affirmative action decision carries far-reaching ramifications beyond higher education admissions. It has the very real potential to restrict the ability to direct philanthropic dollars to leaders of color and marginalized communities. It’s a stark reminder of the work that remains.

In our journey we’ve reflected that it’s not just about moving money; it’s about how we move money, guided by Tides vision. To that end, early in 2024 you’ll hear more from us about best practices in just and equitable grantmaking to help guide your giving. Our mission is fundamentally about shifting power, ensuring that resources are distributed more equitably, and that marginalized communities who have been historically denied power have the social, political, and economic power they need to create it.

The values that Tides embodies are the reasons why we continue to make a difference. Our network and partners aligned with our mission and values is the cornerstone of our work together. Our flexibility allows us to engage with complexity and meet a wide array of grantmaking needs. We are prepared to take risks in the pursuit of systemic change.

To that end, we urge you to explore all of our Tides-led initiatives (TLIs). Each of them represents a unique opportunity to create positive change:

  • Healthy Democracy Fund – Helping close the voter turnout gap and create momentum for stronger pro-voter policies. Invest with us for the health of our democracy.
  • WE LEAD FundElevating and investing in women and nonbinary leaders who are addressing the root causes of the climate crisis in communities of color, which are disproportionately impacted.
  • Advancing Girls Fund – Investing meaningfully and collectively in adolescent girls and young women of color and their allies so that they have the resources to dream, learn, play, and lead. 
  • I-Belong Fund – Building the storytelling power of immigrant communities and proximate leaders in the US to foster a pro-immigrant future based on shared values and belonging.
  • Frontline Justice Fund – Ensuring community groups on the frontline of the environmental crisis, who utilize legal advocacy to advance environmental and climate justice, have the resources they need to succeed and thrive beyond the courtroom. 
  • Stronger Together Fund – Building lasting capacity and helping grassroots organizations thrive, no matter what challenges the future may bring.
  • Just Health FundLaunching in 2024, the Just Health Fund will establish support for reproductive justice and other pressing health issues to support the diverse communities and proximate leaders that Tides serves.

As the year comes to a close and we look to 2024, let’s stay the course with courage and bold investments that shift power and advance equity in solidarity with the communities we serve.

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