3 Immediate Steps Funders Can Take To Move Towards Racial Equity - Exponent Philanthropy
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3 Immediate Steps Funders Can Take To Move Towards Racial Equity

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Diversity and racial equity touch on every aspect of a foundation’s work. In the blog posts: Developing a Shared Language and Introducing an Anti-Racist Intersectional Frame, we discussed how philanthropy can advance racial equity. Now, here are three ways to start doing racial equity work in real time:

1. Look internally

Before trying to deepen racial equity efforts, first look internally. Ask yourself:

How does my organization’s policies, practices and culture reinforce or challenge white supremacy and racism?

Is your board diverse? Do trustees work past diversity and towards inclusion? In other words, does everyone have the space and power to show up as their full selves, and have their opinions valued?

To be clear, diversity and inclusion is not anti-racist work. It’s just a starting point to understand how foundations might be organized in ways that reinforce white supremacy.

2. Complete an internal audit to examine how funding decisions are made

Funders have the power to decide what gets funded and what doesn’t. Consequently, this quite literally determines what type of work happens.

Take the time to reflect on who gets to make funding decisions at your foundation. Are they well-versed in issues of racial equity? Do they have lived experiences relating to the work being funded? Or, can they consult with those who do before funding decisions are made?

These important questions can unearth inequities in your funding processes.

3. Assess where your funding goes and who gets funded

Research from Bridgespan and Echoing Green shows a clear funding gap in philanthropy. I.e., leaders of color get less funding and are less trusted to make decisions on how to spend those fund than white leaders.

Moving towards racial equity means shifting power back to the communities where you serve. Fund diverse leaders with different lived experiences. Furthermore, support organizations that take an explicit anti-racist approach in their work and projects.

When making financial decisions, ask:

Will this support help or hurt advancing anti-racism and racial equity?

By committing to anti-racism and racial equity, funders can transform philanthropy as a practice.

See our research on diversity and racial equity in leanly staffed foundations >>


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About the Authors

Juanita Gallion is deputy director of equity & learning at the Center for the Study of Social Policy.

Maya Pendleton is a policy analyst at the Center for the Study of Social Policy.

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