Better California

The power
of we.

Funders joining
forces is how.

A renewed
California is why.


Key resources for
transforming philanthropy
and changing society.




Sharing Power: To create a Better California, philanthropy needs to help communities build power through direct investment and by sharing our own power, particularly with the communities that are most deeply affected by the systems and institutions that perpetuate inequities. The resources below offer funders a set of tools, frameworks, and case examples for strategies to shift power relationships between foundations and grantees and support community leadership, in service of advancing equity, fairness and justice.

Power Moves: Your Essential Philanthropy Assessment Guide for Equity and Justice

by National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy

This toolkit offers multiple points of entry for foundations to examine the ways in which they currently build, share, and wield power and consider new ways of exercising their power to more effectively advance justice and equity. 

How Community Philanthropy Shifts Power: What Donors Can Do to Help Make that Happen

by GrantCraft

GrantCraft provides practical examples and advice for funders interested in applying a community philanthropy approach, including a diverse sampling of ways to share and shift power without losing sight of institutional interests and strategic imperatives.

Deciding Together: Shifting Power and Resources through Participatory Grantmaking

by GrantCraft

This comprehensive guide presents an overview of how funders are shifting decision-making power to the communities impacted by funding decisions and offers a range of insights, examples, and models of participatory grantmaking for foundations to explore.

Theory of Impact

by Liberty Hill

Liberty Hill, one the longest-standing foundations supporting social justice, shares its framework and approach which includes using a volunteer Community Funding Board to determine its grant recipients.


Theory of Impact

by Funders' Committee for Civic Participation

This foundation affinity group offers a cogent theory of impact to help foundations change the world with a focus on driving resources to power-building, participation, and democracy groups.

Money to Meet this Moment 

Democracy Frontlines Fund

Developed in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, this fund is a great example of philanthropy trusting key movement building advisors to identify the Black-led and power building groups that then receive significant multi-year, general operating support for their work.

Advancing Racial Equity: The creation of a just, inclusive, and equitable California requires philanthropy to apply a racial equity lens to all aspects of our work, helping to create a world where the distribution of resources, opportunities, and burdens is not determined or predictable by race. The resources outlined below offer funders a set of tools, frameworks, guides, and case examples guides for advancing racial equity by strengthening philanthropy’s internal institutional and external grantmaking practices.

 AWAKE to WOKE to WORK: Building a Race Equity Culture

by Equity in the Center

This guide provides a framework, insights, and detailed best practices around the ongoing work needed for all types of nonprofit organizations to shift their cultures and operationalize equity.

Grantmaking with a Racial Equity Lens

by Rinku Sen and Lori Villarosa, Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity

The Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity provides a guide for more advanced practitioners to move beyond racial equity to a racial justice lens with practical steps and specific solutions for grantmakers to employ.

From Words to Action: A Practical Guide to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion 

by GrantCraft

GrantCraft offers a toolkit designed specifically to help foundations integrate DEI practices into their grantmaking and broader organizational culture.

Operationalizing Racial Justice

by Maggie Potapchuk, MP Associates

This companion piece provides a well-curated list of resources, from curriculum and workshop outlines to videos and webinars, for the range of tools needed to operationalize racial equity and justice in their work and institutions. 

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Audit Report

by The California Endowment

The California Endowment shares a great example of not only committing to a Diversity plan with specific target goals, but of monitoring and adjusting it over time through third-party evaluation.

Flexible and Sustainable Funding: General operating support has proven to be one of the most effective strategies for increasing nonprofit performance and resiliency, and nowhere is this more important than in supporting the work of movement building organizations that are working to create a Better California. This section offers resources for foundations to shift institutional practices toward making significant, flexible, multi-year investments and case examples of the significant results that are generated. 

What is General Operating Support and Why is it Important?

by Grantmakers for Effective Organizations

GEO provides a great introductory toolkit for foundations interested in making general operating grants and increasing nonprofit financial sustainability


Grantee Voice: Provide Multiyear, Flexible Funding

by Naomi Orensten, The Center for Effective Philanthropy

This blog makes a strong case for flexible, general operating support and the ways in which it increases nonprofit effectiveness and includes helpful definitions and links to further evidence and resources

The Coolest Equity-Focused Family Foundation You've Probably never Heard Of

by Aaron Dorfman, National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy

The Satterberg Foundation provides a great model of how a mid-sized foundation that helps grassroots organizations build power to achieve justice and equity through multi-year general operating grants. 

Investing in Equity: How the Weingart Foundation's Strategy Aligns with Nonprofit Needs

by Nonprofit Finance Fund

This independent evaluation of the opportunities and challenges facing the nonprofit sector and the extent to which Weingart Foundation’s strategy helps to addresses these needs provides further proof of the effectiveness of ongoing, flexible support. 

Moving Beyond the Check: Foundations are much more than simply the grants they award – they have tremendous non-financial assets that they can bring to bear in their partnerships with government, nonprofits, and business to create a just and equitable California. This section explores tools, frameworks, and examples of foundations using their leadership, influence, capacity building support, and convening power to achieve structural changes that will benefit everyone.

Philanthropy Advocacy Playbook: Leveraging Your Dollars

by Alliance for Justice

The Playbook is the go-to-guide for foundations interested in funding and directly conducting advocacy, explaining the legal rules while offering real-life examples.

Teaming up for Advocacy: How to Effectively Use a Collaborative to Drive Change

by GrantCraft

This will help funders think about how to collaborate with each other to create long-term systems change and understand the pain points and levers of success connected to funding advocacy and donor collaboratives.

Hearts & Minds: The Civil Marriage Collaborative

by Proteus Fund

This case study provides critical lessons learned from the 11-year, $153M collaborative investment that helped America to enact marriage equality, detailing the key elements needed for successful philanthropic support of social justice movements.

Supporting Grantee Capacity: Strengthening Effectiveness Together

by GrantCraft

This comprehensive guide examines how funders of all sizes and types approach capacity building and provides strategies for developing your own capacity building program.

Support Beyond the Check

by Trust-Based Philanthropy Project

The Trust-Based Philanthropy Project offers a range of ways that funders can provide non-monetary support that bolster nonprofit leadership and capacity.

Tipping Point Grantee Support

Tipping Point Community

Tipping Point provides a great case example, leveraging its own connections, resources and technologies and providing introductions to other funders, training, and access to financial sustainability, legal, fundraising, and human resources professionals.


Pushing Past 5%: Foundations can greatly increase their own impact and help build a Better California by deploying a greater share of assets in service of and alignment with their mission and goals.  The resources outlined below offer funders a set of tools and case examples for granting a higher portion of their endowments—beyond the minimum 5%—and ensuring that their financial investments are in alignment with their core values and goals.  

Impact Investing: A guide to this Dynamic Market

by Global Impact Investing Network

Global Impact Investing Network offers a terrific introductory guide to help foundations understand the basics of impact investing and the current state of the field.


Racial Equity & Impact Investing

by Mission Investors Exchange

This is a great library of resources that helps foundations and investors at different stages of practice explore the many ways they can grow and deepen their commitments to racial equity in their investing practices.


Catalytic Capital: Unlocking more Investment and Impact

by Tideline

This report is geared toward those already in the impact investment space, offering a helpful Pathways to Impact framework to understand the strengths, limitations, and recommended uses of a variety of investing approaches and make the case for a more catalytic use of investment capital.

Conscious Portfolio Construction

by the Heron Foundation

Heron has been at the forefront of mission-related investing since 1997 and provides a chronicle of their journey and lessons learned as they moved from 40% to 100% mission-related investing. 

An Impact Investing Case Study

by Edwards Mother Earth Foundation

This case study provides specific lessons learned from a smaller foundation’s commitment to investing 100% of its endowment to generate both measurable environmental benefits and competitive financial returns.

From expanding access to voting to protecting immigrant families to advancing racial equity in our health care systems, philanthropic organizations can play an integral role in changing California for the better. We do this by sharing insights and strategy and joining forces with others. Here are the ways philanthropies and changemakers are incorporating the principles of Better California into their work.


Take a look at the upcoming Philanthropy California events to get involved in this work. 

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Send us a message

Better California joins forces to work hand in hand with community leaders across California—throughout the Northern, Central and Southern regions of our state. We collaborate with business, government, nonprofits, and communities to build power and share power, and create systems.

Better California is a movement to align the vision and resources of philanthropy to build a just, fair, and inclusive state. We are forging a new California dream, rich in imagination, rooted in equity, and available to all of us.



Better California’s long-term vision of a California in which all people can participate, prosper and reach their full potential is rooted in the notion of equity. However, we recognize and seek to remedy the fact that on the basis of race, many Californians have been denied an equitable opportunity to thrive and prosper due to historic and structural barriers rooted in our systems and institutions.


In order to effect radical change in these systems and institutions, we must act boldly to advance our shared goals: an effective and robust public sector, a thriving and inclusive economy, healthy and powerful communities and a sustainable environment. 


Annually, the philanthropic sector invests $8 billion in California. Imagine if philanthropy increased and leveraged these investments in California communities along with the power of our collective influence to take bold actions. We have the opportunity to steward these resources in pursuit of a better future through structural changes that will benefit everyone.


Philanthropy has a significant role to play in achieving greater racial equity and justice in all sectors. We take our responsibility seriously. From demanding racial equity in health to investing fully in our school systems to embracing sustainability as a way of life, philanthropy can achieve more by joining together. 


Better California is housed within Philanthropy California. Better California is a truly collaborative effort, backed by strong and sustained leadership within the philanthropic, nonprofit, and public sectors. We believe in the power of collaboration with business, government, nonprofits, and communities across our state to achieve our vision.


Achieving Better California’s bold vision will require sustained investment, long-term vision, patient capital, deep partnership, following more than leading, and the understanding that an ecosystem for long-term change must be nurtured.


Read our full Declaration here

Better California. It’s our name. And our mission. Headlines tell a story of not only monumental change, but also a society riven by inequality. Better California seeks to change that story by deploying philanthropy to use all its assets to set California on a different course. A California that is more racially just and equitable. An economy that delivers reliable work and livable wages. A California government that is as diverse and talented as California itself. Better California aims to unleash the creative energy in our diverse and talented population. California funders are invited to join us in creating a Better California. Together we can create a brighter future: A California where all people can participate, prosper and reach their full potential.

In order to build a just, fair, and inclusive California, philanthropy must change some of its practices — harnessing the strength of all of our assets and investing in new ways to create long-term structural change that advances racial equity and social justice. 

This playbook offers funders a set of curated resources to support your efforts. Core to Better California is building a sustained movement. Below are several resources on how philanthropy can support movement-building that advances a just and equitable California for all. 

  1. Movement Philanthropy:  Solidaire's Guide to Doing Things Differently
  2. Resource: Justice Funders - Resonance: A Framework for Philanthropic Transformation
  3. Ecosystem Grantmaking: A Systemic Approach to Supporting Movement Building (or could go back to racial equity section)

The Playbook is divided into five interconnected sections — Sharing Power, Advancing Racial Equity, Funding Flexibly and Sustainably, Moving Beyond the Check, and Pushing Past 5%. A range of curated frameworks, guides, tool kits, and case examples are offered under each section. To effect long-term change, Better California recognizes we need all five of these interconnected strategies to be deployed by the philanthropic sector — and an individual funder may find a particular strategy to be a useful starting point.

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