How are foundations addressing issues of diversity?

The Center for Effective Philanthropy recently conducted a massive survey of 70 funders and 10,000 grantee organizations to decipher whether foundations are discussing racial diversity among themselves and with their grantees. The results found that not many (38 percent) of foundations discussed racial diversity with their grantees, but that it didn’t seem to matter all that much to (one third of) the grantees.

A recent report from the D5 Coalition (a group of philanthropic support organizations whose aim is to grow the sector’s diversity, equity and inclusion by 2015) sheds light on the current state of philanthropic diversity:

  1. Foundation leaders are overwhelmingly Caucasian and do not reflect the diversity of the populations they serve.
  2. Few foundations have official diversity policies and practices in place.
  3. Data suggests that diverse populations are overwhelmingly underfunded, while identity-based funds are on the rise.
  4. There is a lack of standardized data collection on issues related to diversity and inclusion.

Considering these findings, the rise of identity-based foundations seems justified as ethnic foundations tend to “fill in the gaps.” Ethnic philanthropic institutions, such as the Center for Arab American Philanthropy (CAAP), fund underrepresented and overlooked communities. In the case of the Arab American population, we are especially overlooked as there is almost no formal data available in the United States on individual Arab American giving, or numbers of foundation board staff or donor-advised fund holders who are Arab American. In 2006, CAAP (then known as the Collaborative of Arab American Philanthropy) produced the first known report: Insights on Arab American Giving.

As representatives of a unique minority group, we need to to be more vocal about our needs to major foundations, and CAAP is helping to give Arab Americans that voice.

We hope that you will be generous April 17-26 during the Cultures of Giving Donor Challenge. This initiative aspires to diversify the face of philanthropy by leveraging the giving power of 22 ethnic funds around the country. All proceeds will go towards youth projects, including our Teen Grantmaking Initiative. For more information please visit our fundraising page.

Photo courtesy Kevin Dooley

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