Foundations don’t base their grants decisions on the diversity of the grantee, said a panel of experts at the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ annual meeting in Vancouver—but a growing number are seeking to ensure that their own staffing and operations are multicultural and trying to figure out other steps to better serve all parts of society.
While diversity is important, grant makers say it is hard to measure what it means when reviewing a nonprofit’s work, said Kelly Brown, director of the D5 Coalition, a project designed to help foundations become more inclusive.
“We really need to build capacity among the philanthropic field to know this information,” she said.
Dawn Chirwa, chief of staff of U.S. programs at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said the philanthropy hopes to make diversity a part of grantee evaluations.
Faye Wightman, president of the Vancouver Foundation, said her organization looks to see if the nonprofits it supports mirror the region it serves on all levels of the organizations.
Ms. Wightman, the first female president of the Vancouver Foundation, said that when she began working there in 2005, the board was overwhelmingly male and entirely white, which she wanted to change. In a city in which half of the population is of Asian decent, she added Asian board members.
Donations from Asians rose after those appointments, she said.
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