Giving Compass' Take:

• The author discusses the importance of demographic data as it pertains to understanding the communities that their grantees are serving. Having demographic data helps grantmakers make changes to the process that will create a positive impact.  

• What else can grantmakers do to understand the communities they are serving and to ensure the most effective grantmaking is happening? 

• Read about how to tackle the challenges with demographic data. 

There is a great interest among grantmakers in demographic data, but no consensus or shared purpose yet on what data should be collected and how should it be used.

Grantmakers occupy a powerful space between power and privilege in the social change sector. As such, they have a unique opportunity—and responsibility—to work proactively toward equity and inclusivity. Increasingly, grantmaking institutions are challenging themselves to not just talk the talk, but walk the walk, when it comes to equity.


The critical first step in this effort is that grantmakers must identify and address implicit bias in grantmaking systems. This might range from ensuring that small, grassroots organizations are not prevented from seeking support due to linguistic barriers to ensuring that grantmaking staff and board members understand the latitude funders have in supporting nonprofit advocacy and civic engagement efforts.

Using data and reaching out to learn more about grantseekers addressing inequities in their fields of interest will give grantmakers a more complete understanding of their own philanthropic role and potential for impact. Doing so may surface blind spots, and will help to inform continuous improvement in the grantmaking process, in ways that will benefit both grantseekers and the communities they serve.

Read the full article on demographic data by Michelle Greanias at PEAK Grantmaking