Philanthropy Northwest is a network of charitable organizations that promotes left-of-center causes in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming. The network receives funding through both government grants and donations from corporations including Microsoft, Boeing, and JP Morgan Chase. The philanthropic consulting organization Arabella Advisors, which manages four major nonprofits that promote left-of-center initiatives, is a dues-paying member of the Philanthropy Northwest network. Other members include the Marguerite Casey Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, prominent left-of-center donor organizations.
In February 2021, President Joe Biden nominated Philanthropy Northwest CEO Kiran Ahuja to serve as the Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which manages the federal government’s civilian employees. In April 2021, the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee advanced her nomination with a 7 to 5 committee vote. Ahuja did not receive the support of any Republicans on the committee.
According to Philanthropy Northwest, the philanthropy sector in the Pacific Northwest started growing in the late 1970s due to major corporations such as Microsoft and Boeing, which began promoting philanthropic activity in the region. Philanthropy Northwest was founded in 1976 and was originally known as the Pacific Northwest Grantmakers Forum. Philanthropy Northwest adopted its current name in 2000.
“Strengthening Philanthropy” is a Philanthropy Northwest project to boost the impact of left-of-center grantmaking organizations. The organization offers resources and training on how companies can make profitable investments in nonprofit organizations to advance left-of-center causes. The organization also connects its member organizations with causes in need of funding and other nonprofits. Philanthropy Northwest claims that members of its network make up nearly half the charity resources in the region.
In 2008, Philanthropy Northwest launched the Mission Investors Exchange, a separate network of foundations to promote left-of-center “impact investing.” In 2016, Philanthropy Northwest ended its fiscal sponsorship of Mission Investors Exchange and awarded it a grant of more than $590,000 to support its transition to an independent organization. Since then, Mission Investors Exchange has promoted far-left policy on race, including calling for the elimination of any policies or societal norms which may result in disparate outcomes for people of different races. The organization also promised to start selecting its board members partly on the basis of race.
Philanthropy Northwest also runs the “Racial Equity Speaker Series.” In 2018, the organization invited far-left racial-issues scholar Ibram X. Kendi, who claims that all racial disparities are the fault of policies and institutions and argues that any policy that creates disparate racial outcomes is racist, as a speaker.
In 2019, Philanthropy Northwest distributed more than a dozen grants between $10,000 and $80,000 to local left-of-center groups in order to support their efforts to boost participation in the decennial U.S. Census.
Kiran Ahuja is the chief executive officer of Philanthropy Northwest pending her nomination to head the Office of Personnel Management in the Biden administration. Ahuja was the OPM Chief of Staff under President Barack Obama. She also oversaw the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
During the race protests and riots during the summer of 2020, Ahuja wrote a statement on behalf of Philanthropy Northwest. The statement claimed that the United States is a fundamentally racist country and cited an article by Ibram X. Kendi, which claimed that government policies that do not discriminate based on race but result in disparate outcomes are still racist. Ahuja instructed readers to donate money to the Black Lives Matter movement and to bail funds for rioters who had been arrested. Ahuja also pressured readers to identify an “Accountability Person” who would remind them of their own supposed “complicity” in creating disparate outcomes based on race.
JulieAnne Behar is a senior manager for programs at Philanthropy Northwest. She previously worked as a grant manager at the left-of-center Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where she oversaw global vaccination and domestic education initiatives.
Prior to 2014, Philanthropy Northwest averaged less than $3 million per year in donations and received just over $3 million in 2014. In 2015, this increased to just over $6.7 million and increased further to more than $10.8 million in 2016. Since then, donations have declined significantly and in 2018, the organization once again received less than $3 million in contributions.