Skip to main content

04. Equity & Justice

Ideas to help you grow in the areas of equity & justice.

Back to Practice Resources

Understand: We recognize two truths. Our organizations are created to promote the welfare of others. Our commitment to equity requires us to dismantle disparities in access to power, money and resources. At the same time, philanthropy is a system that is built on structural inequities and systemic racism. These inequities create a resource gap and power differential between philanthropy and the community.

We create shared understanding about our organization:

  1. We create a shared understanding of what our organization is trying to achievehow it operates and why it exists.
  2. We ensure all staff and board understand the basic structure of the nonprofit sector and the relationships between philanthropic and other charitable organizations.
  3. We take time to define our organization’s goals around diversity, equity and justice. We have a clear understanding of the relationship between equity/justice and our organization’s mission.
  4. We understand our organization’s role in perpetuating or ending disparities.
  5. When onboarding new staff and trustees, we discuss our history as an organization in the context of national and local history. We understand the source of our philanthropy’s finances and how that source impacted/impacts diverse communities.

We create shared understanding about community context:

  1. We take time for shared learning through activities such as book clubs, educational classes and regular discussions that help us to advance in our understanding of equity in the context of philanthropy.
  2. We create shared meaning around equity and justice by defining the terms and educating staff and board around a common language, based on our organizational and community context.
  3. We learn about institutional racism and racial wealth inequality. We seek to understand how racism impacts our work and daily lives.

Begin: We are in a unique position to promote equity and justice. We seek to understand how intersectional inequities and racism manifest in our organizations and our communities. We work to become anti- racist individuals and organizations. In order to advance equity and justice, we listen to the community, honor their story and rely on their lived experience to inform our grantmaking.

As a funder:

  1. We create systems and funding policies to ensure our funding dollars reach a diverse constituency.
  2. If we provide scholarships to individuals, we will consult an attorney if we desire to integrate race, gender, or other protected characteristics into the decision-making process.
  3. We employ a program officer team with enough capacity and time to build authentic relationships with nonprofit grantee partners.
  4. We invest in organizations whose daily work strengthens the fabric of a diverse society.
  5. As an inclusive funder, we include the community in the grantmaking process in meaningful ways and abide by the mantra, “nothing about us without us is for us”.
  6. As an anti-racist funder, we read grant proposals by focusing on the nonprofit’s impact and outcomes, and not focusing on the minutiae of perfect grammar, punctuation or word choice.
  7. As a respectful funder, we only ask grant questions that are critical for our decision-making. With interim and final reports, we ensure we need and read every response that is submitted by our nonprofit grantee partners.
  8. As an impact-focused funder, we commit to utilizing multi-year funding, general operating grants and large dollar disbursements in order to minimize the burden on our nonprofit grantee partners.
  9. We make grant decisions using a racial equity lens.
  10. We conduct a harm analysis (“do no harm” approach) before launching new initiatives. We acknowledge that our good intentions do not always equal good outcomes.

As an employer:

Note: Corporate foundations often follow its affiliated company’s personnel policies, practices and procedures, and thus typically have less control over this area than other types of philanthropic organizations.

  1. We believe diversity is a strength. We demonstrate this belief by including and supporting individuals and avoiding tokenism.
  2. As a staff, we learn about and integrate important ideas about: White supremacyallyshipchanging our conception of moneyanti-racismintersectionalitygender/sexuality and related themes.
  3. We actively seek a diverse range of candidates when selecting staff, trustees, volunteers, consultants, investment managers, legal counsel, auditing firms and other vendors or colleagues.
  4. We consider the equity implications of employing staff including decisions around hiring, compensation, management and training and development of staff.
  5. We talk about and appreciate our differences as people. We create policies and practices that promote acceptance of diversity including race, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, ability, class and other identities.
  6. As individuals, we demonstrate the capacity to balance and understand the needs and issues of our diverse communities and stakeholders.
  7. We talk about historic and current racism and inequities in our community and our organization. We understand its impact, work to become anti-racist in our actions, and create healing spaces for those impacted by racism and trauma.
  8. We explore our organizational culture, discuss the impact of dominant cultures (often White culture), and work to shape a workplace where everyone can thrive.
  9. We comply with all applicable federal, state and local laws regarding equal employment opportunities for all persons regardless of disability, race, color, religion, gender, age, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, or other protected characteristics.
  10. We comply with all federal, state and local employment laws applicable to the size of our organization or work force.
  11. We ensure that any compensation we pay is reasonable and not excessive.

As a member of the community:

  1. We contribute to the public good through involvement in communities, not just through funding. We consider and engage in community action based on a spectrum of roles including facilitators, initiators, communicators, amplifiers, hosts, participants or visible supporters.
  2. We critically weigh the benefits of expanding our impact through activities such as: spending more of the endowment through increased grantmaking or increasing our program related investments.
  3. We recognize that we can expand access to money and resources by increasing diversity among our vendors and by expanding our lists of approved vendors. We create investment policies and vendor policies to align our dollars with our values (see page 12).
  4. We support local businesses and nonprofits led by women, people from Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC) communities, and community members who identify as LGBTQ+ or disabled.

Aspire: We acknowledge our privilege in resources and resulting power. We commit to increase power sharing with our community, especially with communities that have been historically marginalized. We share power in decision-making, which increases community access to philanthropic resources. This increases equity and makes progress toward dismantling racism and eliminating systemic inequities.

  1. We build, share and wield power with partners and community.
  2. We acknowledge our role in an extractive economy and center our work on justice.
  3. We recognize that our role varies between leader and follower. We take time to listen to stakeholders and support their initiatives.
  4. Our decision-making processes align with our values and encourage diverse viewpoints.
  5. Decision-making teams have high participation in making decisions.
  6. We ask nonprofit grantee partners for feedback about how we engage with them: what’s the burden we create versus the benefit we offer? Do they believe that we are respectful of their time, based on the amount of support that we offer?
  7. Based on feedback, we acknowledge when our work falls short of expectations; we work to improve our practices and to heal harm that we create.
  8. As we advance in our equity journey, we recognize our role in bringing along other philanthropic organizations. We share our learnings, both the struggles and the successes, through blogs, papers, conference presentations and other peer learning activities.