The tensions with North Korea, and the terrifying impacts of nuclear proliferation are top of mind for many of us. I am an example of a trend in philanthropy that needs to be addressed: a shift from focusing on nuclear security and nonproliferation to other issues at the end of the Cold War. Donors can no longer ignore the threat our nation and world face in an era of rogue actors and nuclear proliferation. How can donors engage?
I began my career in arms control and nuclear security in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, and my first boss, Randy Forsberg, was an amazing woman who had transitioned from leading the nuclear freeze movement in the 70s to getting her PhD at MIT and leading a think tank, the Institute for Defense and Disarmament Studies (IDDS). I learned a tremendous amount during my years working for her, but during the era of perestroika and glasnost, my naiveté took over and I shifted focus to issues that felt closer to home. When I relocated my family to Seattle, it never crossed my mind to assess the region’s vulnerability to a nuclear attack, let alone how good of a target it makes. But these days, all of my early nuclear security DNA is on high alert, and my hope is that more donors are also thinking about how to engage on nuclear security issues.
Seattle has a military base whose core mission is to reinforce the Korean Peninsula, Boeing, and the trident missile base, and is also the largest US city in proximity to North Korea – all of which make it a prime target.”
To get started, learn about the issues and the most pressing priorities by following articles on this topic here on Giving Compass. You also can follow the foundations who are leading on nuclear security issues, such as Carnegie Corporation of New York, Ploughshares Fund, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
More importantly, you can get involved. Ploughshares Fund acts as an intermediary, collecting and aggregating donor contributions and deploying them strategically. It was founded by a donor-activist, Sally Lilienthal, during the peak of the the Cold War and is now led by Philip Yun, a pre-eminent expert on North Korean issues.
As Yun states, “The two existential threats [to humanity] are global warming and nuclear weapons. Plenty of newer donors are paying attention to the former; few to the latter.” Maybe the silver lining of this current crisis will be mobilizing more donors to get involved and engage: we can’t afford not to.
Stephanie Fuerstner Gillis leads the Impact-Driven Philanthropy Initiative at the Raikes Foundation and is Interim CEO at Giving Compass.
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