Inside Philanthropy | Election 2020: Democracy Funders React to a Historic Contest

Paul Di Donato, President & CEO of Proteus Fund, is featured in this article originally published in Inside Philanthropy:

Several leaders, including Heintz of RBF and Paul Di Donato, President of the Proteus Fund, argued that if philanthropy wants to make real headway on those problems, it needs to treat a robust democracy as foundational and intersectional, not just as another “boutique” agenda. “If philanthropy hasn’t learned this lesson now, I don’t know if it ever will—an inclusive, representative democracy is a basic non-negotiable platform for almost every issue or movement that we fund,” Di Donato said.

Di Donato also emphasized that getting to a truly inclusive and representative democracy will require a “reckoning to tackle white supremacy in this country,” calling white supremacy “the main fuel that’s feeding the assault on democracy.”

In many ways, liberal philanthropy in particular has spent the past several years awakening to the realization that the values it espouses are far from universal. It’s finding those values beset by a torrent of authoritarian and even nihilistic impulses, a problem that squeaking by in a national election can stall, but cannot fix. “All of this requires significant revisiting of the progressive narrative,” Di Donato said. “Why have pro-democracy voices who also aspire for basic equity and inclusion in society almost completely lost the narrative for why this vision of the world makes sense and is achievable?”