In July 2014, a small group of funders came together to form Fund for Shared Insight, a collaborative focused on promoting listening and feedback to elevate the voices of those least heard in our field: the beneficiaries of nonprofit programs and services.

Fortunately, our funders with stronger understandings of EDI saw that our work was directly and unequivocally related to equity, diversity, and inclusion. They understood how meaningful feedback involves listening to diverse voices, and how the very best feedback loops encourage inclusive engagement. They also understood how feedback has the potential to shift organizational culture and disrupt traditional power dynamics between nonprofits, philanthropy, and the people and communities they serve.

Those colleagues consistently challenged others at the table to consider how we might put equity – and more specifically racial equity – more squarely at the heart of our work. By 2016, all of our funders committed to explore this together.

Working with an EDI Lens

Like many other funders on an EDI journey, we’ve come to recognize that working with an EDI lens means more than supporting organizations working toward equity. It has an impact on everything we do. Here are some of the ways we have expanded our commitment to EDI:

  • We now have an EDI partner as a member of our core staff team who is involved in every aspect of our work.
  • We’re committed to recruiting and hiring staff and other partners from diverse backgrounds and to intentionally networking outside of our usual contacts.
  • Our theory of change now includes explicit EDI markers. For each activity and focus area, such as building feedback practice in the social sector, we ask the same guiding questions: How does this reflect our commitment to advance equity, diversity, and inclusion?
  • Our evaluation and learning partner has added EDI-focused questions to their surveys to help us learn and hold ourselves accountable.

We recognize that we have more to learn and that many institutions are far more advanced in their understanding and application of EDI principles in their grantmaking. As we look toward the future, we are considering ways to make grants decisions through a racial equity lens. We are learning about participatory grantmaking and how that might further our EDI goals, especially as we explore working with policy and advocacy groups interested in partnering with the communities they serve.

Read the full article about equity, diversity, and inclusion by Melinda Tuan at The Center for Effective Philanthropy.