New Report Examines Foundation Diversity

Over the past twenty-five years, the share of grant dollars targeting minority populations has grown modestly, even as staff diversity at foundations doubled, a new report from Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors finds.

Based on grant data collected by the Foundation Center and board and staffing composition trends from the Council on Foundations, the report, Philanthropy in a Changing Society: Achieving Effectiveness Through Diversity, found that staff diversity had increased from 12.6 percent in 1982 to 23.2 percent by 2006, while board diversity jumped from 4.3 percent to 13 percent. Over roughly the same period, diversity at the program officer level reached 35 percent, compared with 15.4 percent in 1985. And while CEO and board diversity more than tripled during the period, the report found that much of that progress occurred before 1994.

The report also found that over the same period the share of funding targeting minority populations increased from 5.9 percent to 7.4 percent of foundation giving. Since the early 1990s, grant dollars targeting minority populations has hovered around 8 percent of the total tracked by the Foundation Center's annual grants sample.

Funded by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the report noted that diversity programs evolved as the field became more aware of the need to ensure the participation of diverse voices. In general, the programs have had a positive effect on individual participants and foundations, but limited resources, scale, and duration; lack of coordination across foundations; isolated operations; and lack of outcome-oriented evaluations have hampered replication or field-wide advocacy. The report also noted that the most consistent advocates for increasing diversity and inclusiveness have been affinity groups that began as informal support networks among staff of color.

The report is the first of three that will examine the state of diversity in philanthropy. Published with the goal of encouraging open dialogue in the field, highlighting accomplishments and promising programs, and recommending strategies to address institutional and field changes, the series will include quantitative data, analysis of model diversity programs, and commentary by leaders in philanthropy and related fields.

"Upholding human and individual rights has always been one of our guiding principles," said Maureen Smyth, senior vice president of programs for the Mott Foundation. "We hope our colleagues will join us in exploring and implementing models that will promote greater inclusiveness within the field and, in turn, better help society's underserved communities."

"New Report Provides Data on Foundation Diversity." Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors Press Release 04/25/2008.