Magic Cabinet Appoints Karen Toering as Director of Advocacy

The expansion of Magic Cabinet’s leadership will help to drive the company’s mission of shifting power and moving wealth to impact nonprofit partners forward.

Seattle, WashingtonMay 11, 2023– Magic Cabinet, an organization that champions communities’ work by partnering with nonprofits and philanthropists to achieve deeper local community impact, today announced the appointment of Karen Toering as Director of Advocacy. Shifting from her role as Seattle Program Director, Toering will work closely with the Magic Cabinet leadership team, setting the intention to use its positional power and resources to strengthen advocacy within the sector and with non-profit partners and philanthropic partner networks.

Toering is a well-known community organizer and nonprofit leader in the Seattle area. She’s widely respected for her expertise in racial equity, community organizing and nonprofit leadership. Toering has received numerous awards and honors for her work. She was named one of Seattle’s Most Influential People of 2019 by Seattle Magazine for her work on equity, Black liberation, and wealth redistribution.

As the director of Magic Cabinet’s Advocacy program, Toering will steward efforts in building relationships to alter existing philanthropic systems and promote a new status quo for community leaders.

“Karen’s intrinsic people-first attitude is a perfect fit for us to realize our mission and vision by getting to and understanding the core of nonprofit needs,” said Christina Engel, CEO of Magic Cabinet. “As the philanthropic sector grapples with addressing a legacy of harmful and inequitable practices, Magic Cabinet is uniquely positioned to shift the power in traditional philanthropy through establishing and maintaining authentic, collaborative, and lasting relationships with communities and the nonprofits who serve them. As our Director of Advocacy, Karen will be instrumental in helping us facilitate a culture of learning and ensuring our nonprofit partners have a seat at the grant-making table.”

Magic Cabinet provides funding and access to a peer network to small- and medium-sized nonprofits in Puget Sound and the San Francisco Bay Area. The foundation’s unique participatory approach invests in nonprofit cohorts with a common geography and mutually supporting missions. Magic Cabinet’s approach brings together four elements of community-centered philanthropy: trust-based philanthropy, participatory decision-making, capacity building, and long-term investment.

“Too often philanthropy has taken a top-down approach in attempting to address the gap that our nonprofit community is trying to fill,” Toering said. “We seek to upend these practices by centering nonprofit expertise and needs by investing in relationships. Rather than creating a balance of power, our goal is to create communities in power. This means sustaining relationships, building nonprofit power, learning and continuing to evolve as needs and opportunities change. I’m excited and humbled to help further Magic Cabinet’s mission of championing communities through movement work for structural change. We need to move money locked up in foundations and private wealth out into the community, where it can be a catalyst for successful, thriving lives.”

Kicking off her new role, Toering spoke at PEAK2023, a conference focused on a collective emergent learning journey toward more equitable, effective grantmaking. Her workshop-style session, From Balance of Power to a Community in Power, focused on Magic Cabinet’s approach to narrowing the power gap between foundations and grantmakers to become equal partners in addressing community needs. Participants explored what it means to build relationships to shift power, learned how to flip the script of evaluation to one that focuses on building nonprofit power through inputs, rather than evaluating nonprofit programs as a measure of philanthropic success. Magic Cabinet is thrilled at the opportunity to co-create strategies and commitments with fellow PEAK attendees to evolve and meet changing nonprofit and community needs. 

To learn more about Magic Cabinet and how they bring new paths to philanthropy, visit:
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About Magic Cabinet

Magic Cabinet is a philanthropic foundation that champions communities’ work by partnering with nonprofits and philanthropists to achieve community-led and defined impact. We do this through two paths; philanthropic partnerships aimed to release and accelerate funding into communities in addition to our multi-year participatory grantmaking model.

Magic Cabinet’s direct grantmaking centers and amplifies the work of community-driven organizations by offering collaborative multi-year capacity-building funding. This results in more equitable and well-resourced nonprofits and neighborhoods. Since 2019, Magic Cabinet has awarded over $45 million to nonprofits in Washington and California.

Magic Cabinet’s approach to philanthropy is highly collaborative. We partner with philanthropic funders and community leaders to experiment transparently, learn openly, and bring a flexible approach to philanthropy–committed to centering, listening, and adapting to ever-changing community needs.


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