Reflecting on Our 20th Anniversary
“This is our country at its best,” wrote Catalogue for Philanthropy founder Barbara Harman after seeing several of our nonprofit partners in action earlier this year at our gala, Hope Springs! “Embracing cultural difference, rejoicing and taking in the magic of what human persons have created across cultures and centuries, expressing it in art and community work and bridge-building.”
Since 2003, the Catalogue’s mission has been to support and amplify these extraordinary and “life-affirming activities” that local nonprofits engage in. Founded by author, philanthropist, and former college English professor Barbara Harman, the inaugural print Catalogue included nonprofits based in the District and raised half a million dollars for these nonprofits.
From its inception, the idea of the Catalogue was deeply rooted in ensuring that smaller nonprofits have equitable access to networks and opportunities. “There was just unbelievable work happening at the grassroots level that I suspected many philanthropists would not see,” Barbara shared with Dave Moss in a conversation about the Catalogue in 2018. “What would happen if we were to create an instrument that would make these folks audible and visible to people who otherwise would not know about them?”
The Catalogue is now the Greater Washington region’s only locally-focused guide to giving and volunteering. In the past two decades, we have expanded to include more than 400 nonprofits across the region, raising a total of over $55 million for this network of grassroots organizations. Every year, we train and engage 170+ community members who live or work here to become community advocates and help us determine which nonprofits become part of the Catalogue network.
Beyond connecting residents with these organizations making critical local impact, we also provide our nonprofit partners with professional development opportunities so that they can become stronger and more effective organizations. While supportive resources exist for some nonprofit professionals, many small- and medium-sized organizations cannot afford to implement these “best practices.” Across topics such as fundraising, communications, and board recruitment, our content is specifically designed to be accessible for smaller teams and budgets.
As we reach our 20th year, the Catalogue has provided professional development for more than 25,000 participants. For the third year in a row, we have raised over $1 million for 200+ local nonprofits as part of Give Local Together, our region’s official GivingTuesday campaign and its largest day of giving. We continue to listen to the needs of regional grassroots organizations and adapt to ensure they have the resources they need to thrive — creating our new Grassroots Accelerator Program for nonprofits with budgets below $250,000, as well as our BIPOC Emerging Leader Cohorts for existing and emerging nonprofit leaders of color.
Looking ahead to our next twenty years, the Catalogue for Philanthropy is committed to further advancing equity in the philanthropic space and strengthening the connections between small nonprofits and local individual advocates. Our region faces complex challenges that require a complex coalition to address. We are excited to continue growing, supporting, challenging, and being part of the movement that is bringing about that change. Leading with the words of our founder Barbara Harman, let’s make sure that the world we’re working towards “is one that supports all members of this community.”