Philanthropy New York's 43rd Annual Meeting - Purpose as Compass: A Recap


On May 3rd, Philanthropy New York members gathered for our 43rd Annual Meeting. It was a moment to pause and ask ourselves: What desired social outcome serves as my compass, and how can I hold on to that larger purpose in my daily work? 

We engaged the community through movement, art, and dynamic signature PhilTalks. Through their presentations, our artist presenters and PhilTalkers helped us to unpack the assumptions and conventional wisdom that often shape philanthropic practice. 

Camille Cyprian (Founder and Healer-in-Residence of Centered Spaces LLC) opened up our Annual Meeting by walking us through a series of affirmations to prime our hearts to be open and receptive. This invitation to collective movement allowed us to tune into an underused compass: our bodies.


Camille primed our hearts to be open and receptive to what is possible, in service to a more purposeful way of showing up in our work, through the following affirmation:


One of the key goals of this year's annual meeting was to build on the collective acknowledgment of racial inequity in the philanthropic sector, examining how we recognize, share, and build power with those who are most harmed by racialized policies and practices.

Karla Nicholson (Executive Director, Haymarket People's Fund) and the Haymarket People's Fund have been reimagining anew a philanthropy based on anti-racist principles. Collectively, with membership and program participants, we worked together to reimagine philanthropy in service to a racial equity transition.

Karla expressed that life is a continuing and evolving journey. Our charge is to move this along in a forward direction. Emphasizing behaviors and practices philanthropy can adopt to work in service to its purpose and the areas in which there is still more work to be done.




"What we do should never be conducted transactionally, but toward creating transformation. This requires an intentional process."

"Decision-making for funding must occur from those most impacted by oppression. They are the experts who strive daily for their survival, and grasp what it takes to create systemic change."

- Karla Nicholson

Chi-Ante Singletary Jones (Chief Reparations Officer and Founder, Cypress Fund) shared her journey towards a purpose-driven philanthropy, building power with their communities by asking different questions that challenge our current orthodoxies: What if our grantees got to decide how much of our endowment we spent? In what ways are our structures reflective of our trust in movements? What are the false barriers? Who holds the ultimate decision-making power? Whose interests are centered and protected? What beliefs power the system? 

Chi-Ante reassured us that it’s okay to look back and recognize past mistakes - humility allows oneself to be transformed through the work. We adapt our strategy and shift when the ground tells us that what we’re doing isn’t right.


"We ask each other – our donors and our partners – to push us to think about who has power and how does that show up in our work? How can we take care of each other in a way that honors the labor it takes to do this work as BIPOC staff? What does it mean to create spaces for team members to be ultimately the final decision-makers on the work they are responsible to execute? Can we create policies that look at our work through a Trans, disability justice, and fat-centering lens as a political practice and experiment?"

- Chi-Ante Singletary-Jones

Nigerian-American artist and researcher Mimi Ọnụọha'sIn Absentia, invited us to make visible the relationship that exists between those who collect data and those who are the collected and better understand our responsibility to listen and advocate for racial justice.

What happens when data is made to disappear by those who seek to obscure the intertwined workings of racism and power?


(Mimi's presentation runs from 33:48 - 47:59)

“The promise of data is the promise of sharing truth about people and the world, and so they fight for it. How many of these truth-tellers end up thwarted?”

“To view this as the sole way to appeal to truth is to fall into the traps of a system that builds its own support and justification and that is still at the expense of those who bear the burden.”

- Mimi Ọnụọha

Do you want to reimagine philanthropy in service to racial equity and purpose?

Register today for the programs below!

June 2
Racial Pay Equity: Putting Your Money Where Your Values Are
10 - 11:30am

June 14
Grant Reporting - What is the Purpose? Linking Values, Vision, and Practice
1 - 2:30pm

June 23
Beyond Listening: Ensuring Others are Heard - A Workshop
10 - 11:30am

June 23
Language Matters: The Power of Narrative Change in Advancing Criminal Legal Reform
2 - 3pm

October 27, 2022
The Path to Racial Equity: How Board Readiness Informs Organizational Readiness for Black Leadership
12 - 2pm