Giving Compass' Take:

 The Center for Effective Philanthropy developed a new program that aims to put more working class individuals in leadership positions within foundations to promote diversity for greater impact philanthropy. 

• Why is it crucial for foundations to be leaders in diversity and inclusion? One reason: More diversity can lead to better solutions.

• Read about the need for diversity on foundation boards. 

CEP’s latest report, Nonprofit Diversity Efforts: Current Practices and the Role of Foundations, comes during a time where the foundation sector at large is reflecting on its levels of inclusion and diversity. The case for diversity has been made time and time again for increasing impact philanthropy. We know a diverse workforce creates more dynamic, anti-“group think” environments that are far more intelligent and reactive to the challenges around them.

Despite this common understanding, the foundation sector does not reflect this reality. Certainly, recent data from the Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF) makes it clear that in England and Wales, the foundation sector desperately needs to improve. The research shows that foundation boards in England and Wales are 99 percent white, men outnumber women at the board level at a ratio of 2:1, and over half of trustees are over 65 years old. With such a homogeneous landscape, are funds really being distributed as effectively as they could be?

While there is often a level of expectation that the organizations funded by foundations have diverse work streams that reach certain communities, there exists a deeply uncomfortable hierarchy whereby the people with strategic vision and decision-making power are white and predominately middle or upper class.

We think the foundation sector can and should do better. However, we understand the stasis that surrounds many of the conversations around diversity and the sector. This is why we have developed the 2027 programme, a new program designed to support talented frontline workers from working-class communities and bring them into decision-making roles at trusts and foundations in several English cities.

We need to get beyond a mindset that implies a candidate with lived experience lacks the skills and knowledge to succeed in the workplace, and rather question how working environments have been normalized to the point that only those with a certain background can thrive.

Read the full article about how diversity will lead to impact philanthropy by Selina Nwulu at the Center for Effective Philanthropy