How do you monitor and support grantees around DEI work?

MaximilianEyleMaximilianEyle Posts: 14 ✭✭✭
Photogenic 5-Year Anniversary First Compass Anniversary Summit 2022

Hi there! My colleague, @SheriaWalker, and I presented a Client Panel at Summit 2022 and wanted to take advantage of the entire community's collective wisdom to keep the momentum from the conversation going.

Our presentation reviewed new practices that our foundation has put in place to assess whether an organization's target population is represented at their leadership tables. We also shared lessons learned from our Nourishing Tomorrow's Leaders program which helps prepare community members for board service and pair them with regional nonprofits.

Please feel free to respond to any or all of the following prompts:

  • How do you assess whether or not a grantee has an inclusive and diverse leadership structure?
  • What strategies do you use to help a grantee expand the perspectives represented within their organization?
  • How do you support community members who are interested in board service?

It was great meeting so many of you in-person in Memphis! We look forward to hearing your insights and best practices regarding your own DEI work.


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    LoriPerkinsLoriPerkins Posts: 40 ✭✭✭
    First Compass Anniversary Name Dropper First Comment First Answer
    edited June 2022

    Hi @MaximilianEyle. I'm so sorry I didn't get to hear you and Sheria at Summit.

    All great questions! I will definitely be following this thread. Our community is made up mostly of small nonprofits, so we will need to take that into account in relation to your questions.

    We are just starting to look at these issues. We've created a new Grants Committee called the IDEA (Inclusion Diversity Equity Aligned) Committee. It is made up of 3 staff, 2 Trustees (one a person of color, who is the Chair), and 5 BIPOC community members. Our goal is to seek out and encourage Black-led nonprofits, which seldom apply for our grants, to submit an application. We also plan to provide non-monetary assistance to the cohorts of grantees. Possibilities include membership in Maryland Nonprofit, training on governance, fundraising, etc., and communication about/access to opportunities outside our foundation they might be interested in.

    We have had some struggles with defining "Black-led." We had discussed the possibility of requiring a certain percentage of board members be Black, or requiring the Chair (in addition to the ED/CEO) be Black. However, although it's still being discussed, we seem to be moving in the direction of keeping it broad (for now) and simply saying the organization must have an ED who self-identifies as Black.

    If you, or others, have any advice for us, we are open to it!

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    MaximilianEyleMaximilianEyle Posts: 14 ✭✭✭
    Photogenic 5-Year Anniversary First Compass Anniversary Summit 2022

    Hi @LoriPerkins!

    Thank you for your thoughtful response, I appreciate you taking time to outline your current process. It's fantastic that your foundation is doing so much in this area and asking these sorts of questions, and we completely understand how difficult it can be to update processes in an effective way.

    A couple ideas jump to mind as I read your post. I noticed that you mentioned that your foundation has historically received very few grant proposals from Black-led nonprofits. This is certainly an important thing to track, and might be an indication that there is something within the application process itself that is a barrier. If you haven't already, it may be worth gathering feedback from Black-led nonprofits about why they have not submitted more funding requests.

    Regarding what defines a "Black-led organization", I think your instincts about keeping it broad are wise. When the requirements are too rigid, it can sometimes have the opposite effect and become exclusionary. For example, an organization might not have a Black ED but still have lots of people of color on their board and in other influential executive level staff positions. Alternatively, they may have a person of color as their ED, but not necessarily be addressing the needs of their community in an authentic and inclusive way. These are some of the reasons why keeping it open ended and taking it case-by-case can be helpful.

    Again, I really appreciate your transparency and applaud the effort you are putting into this work. We hope you will keep us posted moving forward and wish you the best of luck!

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