June 21, 2012; Source: Philanthropy News Digest (Foundation Center)

A national initiative aiming to broaden the reach of philanthropic dollars in the U.S. has shown sizable growth in the last year. The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) announced last week that 61 new foundations have signed on to “Philanthropy’s Promise,” a 2011 initiative that aims to increase philanthropic support and democratic participation in underserved communities in the United States. According to NCRP, the total list of signatories now includes 125 foundations, representing independent and family foundations, community foundations and other related public charities, and corporate foundations. Together, the foundations are responsible for a total of almost $3.4 billion in annual grantmaking.

Now endorsed by foundations in 24 states, the initiative had the biggest gains with organizations in California and New York during the past year. NCRP cites the Cleveland Foundation, the NoVo Foundation and the United Way of New York City as examples of the range of geographic areas and funding priorities among the most recent signatories in this unified effort. Founded by Peter and Jennifer Buffett, the NoVo Foundation aims to end violence against women and girls nationally and internationally and through this orientation found a clear connection with “Philanthropy’s Promise.” “Empowerment of underserved populations lies at the heart of NoVo Foundation’s grantmaking and for that reason we enthusiastically sign on to the Philanthropy’s Promise initiative,” the NoVo Foundation said in a statement.

As a way to build on this success, NCRP communications director Yna Moore said that the organization would be using a variety of approaches to work with foundations in the coming year, noting, “One [approach] is to ask those that have signed on to help spread the word and encourage fellow grantmakers to consider participating in the initiative.” Moore added that she and her colleagues are hoping that signatories will post a badge on their websites and continue to share information about Philanthropy’s Promise on social media channels.

In a video testimonial on NCRP’s website, Luz A. Vega-Marquis, president and CEO of the Seattle-based Marguerite Casey Foundation, discusses her organization’s commitment to funding advocacy and activism for underserved communities, and says, “Embedded in Philanthropy’s Promise is a strategy that works.” –Anne Eigeman