Exponent Philanthropy is proud to launch, Mind the Gap: Exploring the Role of Diversity and Racial Equity in Leanly Staffed Foundations – 2021 Edition. This publication shares our research on leanly staffed foundation demographics, and how lean funders see racial equity relate to their work.

The intentional inclusion of diverse perspectives leads to better decision making, more equitable outcomes, and a greater philanthropic impact. We are committed to a culture that advances these principles and practices within our organization and across our community.

Mind the Gap is focused explicitly on racial equity in philanthropy. We encourage lean funders to use this report, and accompanying guide, to consider how their foundations could be perpetuating racial inequities, and begin correcting them. Below are other key findings.

Relevance of racial equity to lean foundations’ mission

Exponent Philanthropy’s 2021 Foundation Operations and Management Report defines racial equity as:

The systematic fair treatment of people of all races that results in equitable opportunities and outcomes for everyone.

According to that report, racial equity is increasingly relevant to leanly staffed foundations’ missions:

  • In 2020, a greater percentage of foundations said racial equity was somewhat or very relevant to their mission compared to the previous year (73% in 2020 versus 65% in 2019).
  • Foundations that said racial equity is very relevant to their mission are more likely to implement all racial equity practices compared to those that said racial equity is somewhat or not relevant to their mission.

Grantmaking for racial equity

Advancing diversity, equity and inclusion is key component of catalytic philanthropy. Lean funders are well positioned to nurture and support leaders of color as well as small, dynamic grassroots organizations. Lean funders also are in a good position to engage grantees and members of the community in decision making. Exponent Philanthropy’s data shows that:

  • Funders that said racial equity is somewhat or very relevant to their mission are more likely to engage in catalytic philanthropic practices.
  • Foundations that said racial equity is critical to their mission tended to fund the following populations more frequently:
    • Economically disadvantaged
    • Ethnic or racial minorities
    • Immigrants, migrants or refugees
    • The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning, intersex and ally community

Read the full article about diversity and racial equity in leanly staffed foundations by Afia Amobeaa-Sakyi and Brendan McCormick at Exponent Philanthropy.