Trust-based philanthropy won’t work if it’s “built on a rotten foundation”

A conversation with Kris Archie, CEO of the Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada

Why It Matters

The number of cases of COVID-19 in Indigenous communities is rising, and the impacts — exacerbating already crisis-level rates of mental illness among Indigenous youth, for instance — have been devastating since the beginning. If the philanthropic sector wants to help, it needs to use this moment to completely transform how it operates.

The pandemic has changed philanthropy — maybe forever. 

In response to the prolonged crisis, many foundations and grantmakers have been operating based on trust. They’ve lifted restrictions on existing funding and created new funding opportunities meant to keep organizations afloat and power emergency response. Non-profits and charities have welcomed the change, but it’s unclear how long it’ll last. 

And Kris Archie, CEO of the Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada, says a deeper transformation in the sector’s leadership is needed. The Circle works with Indigenous-led organizations, foundations, and grantmakers to facilitate partnerships that truly empower and prioritize Indigenous-led solutions. Archie says there’s not nearly enough of this work happening in the sector, especially at a time when Indigenous communities are being d

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