Charity officials are weighing in on the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation’s search for a new president.
The $7-billion philanthropy is looking for a leader to replace Paul Brest, who plans to step down later this year after more than a decade in the top role.
In a letter this week to foundation trustees, officials of nine progressive nonprofits said they hoped Hewlett would choose a leader who shares Mr. Brest’s commitment to long-term grants that do not have too many strings attached.
The nonprofit leaders, who include officials from groups like Friends of the Earth, the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, and the National Council of La Raza, also said they wanted a president who would seek to use the fund’s money to alleviate racial inequality.
Hewlett’s next leader should also recognize the “limits of ‘strategic philanthropy,’ ” the nonprofit leaders said.
Mr. Brest has been a big proponent of the results-oriented approach to grant making, but the charity officials said they worried that “strategic philanthropy too often favors a linear, excessively technocratic view of social change.”
They also said it could place burdensome requirements on grantees. The nonprofit officials urged Hewlett to make it easier for charities to apply for grants and report on how they are spending the money.
In the letter, the charity officials commended Hewlett for supporting advocacy and policy work. They urged the fund’s next leader to spend a larger share of the fund’s dollars on advocacy efforts by small, grass-roots organizations.
Also signing the letter were the Center for Community Change; the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice; the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity; the Native American Rights Fund; the Rainforest Action Network; and Rebuild the Dream.