Nevertheless, the pursuit of an equitable grant allocation strategy poses a formidable challenge for numerous grantmaking organizations, even when driven by the noblest intentions.
Equitable grantmaking entails deliberate efforts to distribute resources fairly, recognizing historical injustices and involving marginalized communities. This approach aims for universal access to opportunities, seeking to address biases and achieve lasting impact. To ensure such equity in grantmaking, consider these essential tips:
Implement a Diverse Board
In grantmaking, representation matters on all levels, and your board is no exception. Having a board that consists of members from all walks of life, various backgrounds, and a plethora of identities will ensure your board benefits from a diverse set of perspectives. A diverse board reduces the chances of unconscious bias and brings various life experiences to the grantmaking decision making process, widening the aperture of which communities have access to your grants. Empowered with members from diverse backgrounds, your organization can make more informed and inclusive grantmaking decisions.
Learn Continuously and Look at the Data
Not one person or organization knows everything about everything. As such, your organization and its leaders must adopt the mindset of continuous learning. This entails proactively educating yourselves on the lives of those in all the communities you serve. Whether that’s keeping your teams updated on evolving community needs, striving to understand diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) best practices, or staying informed about emerging trends in philanthropy, your entire organization must commit to learning on an ongoing basis. At the same time, adopting data-driven decision making will also be key in learning continuously. Assessing any evident patterns in your past grantmaking decisions, looking at which communities are underserved and which aren’t, and working to understand how such data insights will help your organization measure your true impact as well as influence future, will propel you into making more equitable grantmaking decisions.
Rely on Nonprofit Experts and Communicate with Communities
Collaboration with nonprofit organizations and community stakeholders is crucial to equitable grantmaking. Nonprofits often possess firsthand knowledge of their communities' needs and the challenges they face everyday. Through exercising partnerships and collaborations with nonprofits, your organization can leverage their expertise, knowledge, and experience with a variety of communities to inform your grantmaking strategy for the year or beyond. Trusting nonprofits as experts in their fields will help address any blindspots in your grantmaking decisions and inform your future ones.
To further enhance the equity and inclusivity in your grantmaking, it’s important to keep an open line of communication with all the communities you wish to serve. Engaging in a meaningful dialogue with such communities to truly understand their needs and perspectives will help you gain trust. Communicating with communities needs to be a two-way dialogue, with an emphasis on listening—never top-down. Through these conversations and communications, your organization will learn where the needs lie and why, as well as better understanding the lived experiences of the people in these communities—enabling you to direct your funding where it’s needed most.