Tom Watson explains why Ford’s commitment to general operating support matters.

Published in The Chronicle of Philanthropy | July 16, 2015

Smart Donors Are Putting Nonprofits Back in Charge

By Tom Watson

So far, this has been a summer of political campaigning and stunning social change: hateful flags coming down, rainbow flags going up—and deeper meaningful conversations in the United States about the forces that still divide us.

Among those voices has been that of Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation and keeper of its $12-billion-plus endowment, who announced last month that the second-largest philanthropy in the nation will focus much of its grantmaking on inequality, aiming to use its capital to create a “social-justice infrastructure.” This fits our changing times like a glove.

But so does Mr. Walker’s other major strategic shift: doubling Ford’s commitment to unrestricted grants for nonprofit operating support.

The Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent organization working to address inequality and build a future grounded in justice. For more than 85 years, it has supported visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. Today, with an endowment of $16 billion, the foundation has headquarters in New York and 10 regional offices across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

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