Letting Go

How Philanthropists and Impact Investors Can Do More Good by Giving Up Control

Foreword by Edgar Villanueva

It’s an open secret: philanthropy today is top-heavy and insular. A glance at the world’s largest foundations and impact investment funds reveals that decision-makers tend to be disproportionately white, male, and from backgrounds of privilege. And decisions tend to be made in a closed, opaque way.

In Letting Go, Ben Wrobel and Meg Massey tell the story of the funders who have chosen to cede decision-making power to people with lived experience of the problem at hand. The stories range from a global foundation run by and for young feminist activists, to a neighborhood loan fund controlled by working-class residents of color.

As this book reveals, it’s not only possible to shift power in philanthropy and impact investing – it’s imperative in a world where inequality is reaching a breaking point.

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What People Are Saying ...

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Ben Jealous

"Whose voices get heard? Who gets ignored? Ben Wrobel and Meg Massey make a sharp and compelling case for shifting decision-making power – a must-read for the social sector."

- Ben Jealous, former President and CEO, NAACP

Tara Sabre Collier

"This book is constructive, informed, comprehensive and above all, engrossing. An eye-opening and provocative read for those deploying capital to solve the world's big challenges."

- Tara Sabre Collier, Visiting Fellow, University of Oxford's Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship

Jed Emerson

"Massey and Wrobel offer an important road map for turning statements of solidarity into meaningful action. Through their thoughtful and accessible framing, the authors outline a pathway forward for asset owners, foundation executives and community members. A critical read for critical times!"

- Jed Emerson, Founder, Blended Value Group

Rodney Foxworth

“How can we reimagine a more just world if we don’t consider the redistribution of power as a key element to transformative change? In Letting Go, Ben Wrobel and Meg Massey address this question deeply in their sharp read with real world examples and solutions on how philanthropy and funders can step up by stepping down, and become better allies for the communities they seek to serve.”

- Rodney Foxworth, CEO, Common Future

Morgan Simon

“Sharing power isn’t just a concept, it’s an action. We have to actually work differently as investors if we want to build community wealth and power, and truly realize the transformative potential of impact investing. This book provides an important roadmap from philosophy to action, and I hope the field will take its lessons to heart!”

- Morgan Simon, Founder, Candide Group

Rose Longhurst

“If our ambition is justice, not charity, then the question of ‘Who decides?’ is key. By interrogating the usual ways we operate, and sharing stories of inspiring alternatives, Letting Go is the best introduction to the best ideas for social change.”

- Rose Longhurst, Programme Officer, Open Society Initiative for Europe

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About the Authors


Meg Massey

Meg Massey is a journalist covering social impact and social justice in the world of finance. Her writing has been featured in Time, Fortune, Impact Alpha, and others. She began her social sector career as a policy analyst in the Obama White House, and later led strategic communications for the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment (GSG) and the Urban Institute’s Research to Action Lab before founding her strategy firm, Sanspeur, in 2019.
Ben Wrobel 2019 Headshot

Ben Wrobel

Ben Wrobel is Director of Communications at Village Capital, a pioneer in participatory investing. He started his career as chief speechwriter for the NAACP, and later raised money for voter registration campaigns including Stacey Abrams’ New Georgia Project. He has edited two best-selling books: REACH: 40 Black Men on Living, Leading and Succeeding and The Innovation Blind Spot.

Order the Book

Letting Go is available worldwide in hardcover and ebook. If you wish to place a bulk order (10+ copies) for your organization, please email info@lettinggobook.org.
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In the News

Doing More by Doing Less: A Call to Rethink Philanthropy

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How Philanthropists and Impact Investors Can Do More Good – By Giving Up Control

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“Letting Go.” A New Book Explores the Promise of Participatory Grantmaking

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Contact the Authors

For press, event, and book review requests, email info@lettinggobook.org

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