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Here’s looking back at our best content from a busy year.

Dear Reader,

A lot happened in 2020. We normally end the year with a “top articles” post, but 2020 proved too … eventful for just a few articles. While I recommend a few select pieces below, I also highlight a few major new series that Philanthropy Daily ran last year.

For those of us in the nonprofit sector, the major story about 2020 was the performance of the charitable sector which (initial reports suggest) was impressive. Coming out of 2020, I’ve got my eye on two things in particular. First, whether the foundations who stepped up their generosity in 2020 maintain that precedent, or whether they will go back to expecting endless hoop-jumping as they dole out 5% annually. Second, whether American generosity (and the American economy) can sustain the level of giving we saw in 2020, or whether it will retract due to economic slowdowns or decreasing concern for hardships related to lockdowns or the virus.

We will keep an eye on these trends—and many more—as we continue to provide commentary on the charitable sector and civil society in America.

As far as looking back at 2020 at Philanthropy Daily, a full year ago Matt Gerken had an importance piece on job titles, which is well worth revisiting at the beginning of this new year, and just last month, Eduardo Andino reflected on the growing (and troubling) role of “management” replacing the institutions of civil society.

Beyond those two hallmark pieces capturing Philanthropy Daily’s work in supporting fundraisers and strengthening civil society, too much happened to narrow down a few top articles. In 2020, we launched a webinar and article series to support fundraisers through the early weeks of the coronavirus crisis. After that, we ran a series of reading recommendations for "troubled times.” Both of these series were born out of specific moments in 2020, but both of them retain relevance today—for better or worse—and they are well worth returning to, if you haven’t seen them yet.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t encourage you to catch up on (or revisit) Givers, Doers, & Thinkers, Philanthropy Daily’s new podcast with Jeremy Beer speaking with interesting folks about the most interesting aspects of civil society in America today. (You’ll want to catch up before season two drops in 2021!)

Finally, and most importantly, thank you for being a Philanthropy Daily reader and thank you for your hard work—as a fundraiser, as a donor, as a member of a community—strengthening civil society. The organizations that you support, with both time and money, are essential to a free and thriving civil society. I hope that Philanthropy Daily provides some support in your charitable or nonprofit work.

As always, if you’ve not yet, please sign up for our weekly newsletter to get the best news and opinion pieces in your inbox each week. And feel free to be in touch—I’d love to hear from you with article or content area recommendations. If you have questions we can cover in our Practicalities, or see a hole in our coverage of the nonprofit sector, please let me know.

With gratitude,

1. Does your job title scare off your donors?


A new study by Nonprofit Management & Leadership investigates the best job titles for fundraisers. The crucial thing is that they avoid jargon and put the donor first.

2. Civil society and the Leviathan


Civil society—an essential element of a flourishing democracy—has become impotent in the face of powerful forces that threaten a free society.

3. Fundraising for Uncertain Times


While the COVID pandemic sweeps across the country, everything feels uncertain. As you work to keep your organization stable and successful, Philanthropy Daily will remain a resource for you with COVID-related articles and a new webinar series.

4. Readings for Troubled Times


In the midst of struggles and crises all across our nation, our friends and colleagues share what they think we should be reading to understand this moment and to fortify ourselves against the influence of ideologues and the movements that would undermine a strong civil society. The eighth in a series.

5. Givers, Doers, & Thinkers


Givers, Doers, and Thinkers (GDT) introduces listeners to the fascinating people and important ideas at the heart of American civil society.

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