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Following many conversations with philanthropists over the course of two decades, one thing is clear: it’s important for them to continuously enhance the work they’re doing to support the causes they care about. But no matter the mission, foundations can enrich their good works by having a unique cross-section of opinions, perspectives and experience.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) are no longer nice-to-have buzzwords—they are critical societal concerns that are becoming more central in the philanthropic sector. So, we asked the experts on our Philanthropic Advisory Services Team to share some of the strategic considerations and best practices foundations can use to successfully incorporate DEI approaches into day-to-day processes, communications and actions.

1. Consider Internal Practices

If your organization and its actions don’t reflect and support your beliefs and priorities around DEI, there are opportunities to revisit and retool your practices for better outcomes.

  • Is DEI a factor in hiring employees and/or outsourcing services?
  • Is the foundation’s leadership a representation of its DEI goals?
  • Is DEI a focus for staff and board training and/or activities?
  • In what way does the board incorporate DEI (or a DEI lens) when discussing foundation policies and grantmaking choices?
  • How does the foundation measure progress on issues related to its own DEI practices?

2. Signal the Importance of DEI to Foundation Stakeholders

Heightening the visibility of your commitment to DEI will help internal and external stakeholders understand how you operate, how decisions are made and how to partner with you most effectively.

Certainly, a foundation can put DEI front and center by incorporating it into its mission. This isn’t the only way to signal its significance, however. Other less explicit, but perhaps equally effective, measures might include:

  • Engaging members of a target community to help design the solutions that the foundation will support to illustrate its commitment to the inclusion of a wide array of voices.
  • Introducing demographics questions in a foundation’s proposal and reporting templates to let applicants and grantees know that DEI is important.
  • Incorporating DEI factors in the description of foundation programs.
  • Reviewing all internal and public foundation communications, such as websites, applications, annual reports and collateral, social media posts, press releases and employee handbooks for consistency with DEI principles and priorities.
  • Creating and partnering with a proposal review committee that is comprised of foundation leaders and representatives from the communities in which the foundation is operating.

3. Amplify Equity Messaging to Grantees

When your DEI priorities are an integral part of the application process, it helps increase alignment with potential grantees.

  • While DEI may be integral to your foundation, have you recently reviewed your public-facing assets?
  • Is DEI communicated clearly on your website and in your mission statement?
  • How is DEI reflected in the makeup of your board and any internal staff?
  • In what way does the board incorporate DEI (or a DEI lens) when discussing foundation policies and grantmaking choices?
  • Have you audited your grant application? Does it include questions about the demographics of the leadership and target audience of the applying organization? And a place to share how it’s being otherwise proactive in making its work inclusive?
  • Have you audited your review process? How does DEI influence the decision-making process, if at all?

2 Bonus Best Practices

Want to see the rest of the strategies from our team of experts? Checkout the complete resource, Foundation Best Practices: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.

Want to Talk to a Philanthropic Specialist?
Whether you’re creating your first private foundation or want to professionalize your foundation with robust tools and applications purpose-built for your needs, we’d love to help! Schedule a call with us here or reach us at 800-839-0054. Together, let’s #begiving.

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