Sourcing and diligence processes are at the heart of funders’ ability to meet the moment. By “sourcing,” we mean finding and elevating nonprofits and initiatives to fund, while “diligence” refers to the vetting process donors conduct before making a contribution. Together, sourcing and diligence are the means to an important end: providing information for making decisions on giving. But that’s not all—sourcing and diligence processes can also help donors meet and build trust with those who are leading the hard and ongoing work of social change. In addition, they can energize donors about what is possible, helping them see how their support contributes to an arc of impact that is larger than any one individual’s reach.

In this article, we offer practical sourcing and diligence guidance for donors who want to increase their contributions to social change efforts—whether they are just getting started or have been at this work for decades. This information will help donors make their grantmaking more inclusive and equitable, and, importantly, it will help donors get started, “learn while doing,” and improve over time.

We’ve learned how effective sourcing and diligence processes can be when they are designed to counteract pernicious biases baked into common practices and cultural norms. These biases perpetuate longstanding inequities that plague communities and leaders based on their race or ethnicity, gender, caste, class, religion, or other markers of identity.

Effective processes also mitigate the imbalance of power between a funder and grantees, ensuring that the effort and cost of getting to a funding decision are commensurate with the actual funds provided to the nonprofits already doing so much difficult work. From adopting “asset-based” views that recognize the distinct strengths of nonprofits and their leaders to being mindful of the “tax” that diligence processes place on nonprofit leaders, there are practices that can help to advance equity and address power imbalances. We describe these practices below.

Donors come to their giving with a wide range of interests and goals as well as experience with philanthropy. Despite the variety of starting points, we have found they often approach us with a common set of questions, which we address in turn in the sections below:

  • Where will my giving make the most difference, and how should I get started?
  • How can I find high impact organizations and efforts to support?
  • How will I determine which of those organizations to support?
  • Whom should I rely on to advise me and manage the process?

Read the full article about philanthropic sourcing, diligence, and decision making by Betsy Doyle, Lyell Sakaue, and Lauren Shaughnessy at The Bridgespan Group.