Philanthropic Affiliation: Agnostic

Lucy Bernholz of Philanthropy 2173 declares that the second “it” word of the year is “sector agnostic,” a phrase coined by Ralph Smith, Senior Vice President of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

In an interview with the Nonprofit Quarterly, he expounds on the tenets of sector agnosticism. Philanthropic objectives are best achieved when employing a sector-blind approach. Previously, nonprofits and foundations were in an exclusive relationship; nowadays, foundations are in an open relationship with a wide variety of partners.

Anne Andrews, a sector-blind attorney, agrees. The tag line for her blog, “The Sector Agnostic,” is a quote by Robert Lang, the father of L3Cs, who said “in truth, there is no such thing as a nonprofit organization.” Andrews aims to overthrow the dichotomous mindset that dominates the social sector, drawing strict and artificial boundaries between for-profit and non-profit.

Andrews, Lang, Smith, and Bernholz form a growing contingent of proselytizing sector agnostics.


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