Equity and Inclusion

At Exponent Philanthropy we have learned that the intentional inclusion of diverse perspectives leads to better decision making, more equitable outcomes, and greater philanthropic impact. This is why we are committed to cultivating a culture that advances these principles and practices within our organization and among our community.

We are on a journey to understand, embrace and champion equity in every sense of the word. This includes learning side by side with the funders in our community, growing together, and inspiring one another. Our learning begins by recognizing we do not have all the answers. In fact, we probably don’t even know all the questions.

Our commitment to equity is not dependent upon funding or popular movements, nor are we afraid of the discomfort we may feel – it is based on what is right and intrinsically linked to our mission to enhance the impact of lean funders.

Our Commitment

One of the pillars of our five-year strategic plan is to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in our community of lean funders as well as the field of philanthropy. In January of 2019, preceding the plan’s completion, the board of Exponent Philanthropy formally adopted the following resolution:

The Board endorses and supports the staff of Exponent Philanthropy as they continue to develop knowledge and command of a racial equity framework to support not only our internal policies and practices, but also to inform our members, through focused attention on equity, diversity and inclusion.

Our Actions

It isn’t enough to just talk about embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion practices; change requires action. We are a small staff and board, and together we are taking steps to educate ourselves individually and collectively on issues of equity, while also implementing policies to build a culture that advances diversity, equity, and inclusion within our organization and our community. These initiatives include:

  • Organizing staff and board trainings on racial equity in partnership with: Borealis Philanthropy, ABFE, Service Never Sleeps, and others.
  • Engaging a diverse group of speakers to share their expertise at conferences and programs
  • Creating definitions of “diversity, equity, and inclusion”
  • Participating in the Racial Equity in Philanthropy (REP) Fund cohort
  • Refining internal policies, hiring practices and position postings
  • Reviewing and refining our brand guide to ensure it is consistent with our strategic plan and is reflective of our inclusive values
  • Developing conferences, programs and resources that encourage lean funders to evaluate their impact with an equity lens
  • Sharing best practices in our community through member stories
Here are a few ways we are writing, sharing, and celebrating to elevate the ongoing equity work within our lean funder community, and to help lean funders progress in their own journeys through new programming and resources:

Essentials Summer 2020: Paradigm Shifts explores racial equity in philanthropy and understanding racial bias in philanthropic funding.






Our Measures

As our mission states, we aspire to be a more inclusive organization and community than we are today. That’s why we are measuring and publishing our progress, to hold ourselves accountable and demonstrate the impact of our journey.

Relevant Resources from the Field

We recognize that there are many resources in the field to support equity work. Here are a few we found particularly relevant to lean funders:

Member Spotlight: Hill Snowdon Foundation: Values to Vision
Exponent Philanthropy member, the Hill-Snowdon Foundation, shares their foundation’s journey to link their values to vision– which means embracing racial equity. Changing the foundation’s giving didn’t happen overnight. The report shares the gradual steps it has taken over the years to address the root causes of social inequities through learning, evaluation, and listening to their grantee partners.

NCRP Power Moves Toolkit
The NCRP Power Moves Toolkit is a comprehensive toolkit to help your foundation assess how well you are building, sharing, and wielding your power and identifies steps your foundation can take to improve your programs and operations for more equitable impact. The toolkit includes self-assessments and discussion questions to guide your journey.

Operationalizing Equity: Putting the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Racial and Ethnic Equity and Inclusion Framework into Action
This report shares the journey of how the Annie E. Casey Foundation put their racial and ethnic equity framework into action. The report covers where to start, how to bring staff along the journey, and how to implement strategies across various functions of the foundation.

Awake to Woke to Work: Building a Race Equity Culture
Awake to Woke to Work from Equity in the Center focuses on how your organization can build a race equity culture at your organization. The report outlines asks readers to examine the four levels which racism operates (individual, interpersonal, institutional, and structural), and adopt and anti-racist mindset to create a more inclusive and equitable organizational culture.

Grantmaking with a Racial Equity Lens
Grantcraft in collaboration with the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity, produced Grantmaking with a Racial Equity Lens. The guide offers advice on how to deepen your foundation’s commitment to racial equity internally and in the community by sharing first-hand experiences and practical guide from foundation leaders.