Analyze your giving in recent years – as well as your proposed donations this year – to determine which nonprofits you support are led by and benefit those who you intend to serve.
Grantee budget size
As you look at your grants portfolio, are you funding a mix of established and emerging organizations? There is a benefit to supporting organizations with deep capacity and demonstrated impact, as well as those that are developing and implementing innovative programs with limited resources. When striking this balance, keep in mind the correlation previously noted between an organization being led by an ethnically diverse leader and lower levels of funding.
Consider how you’re sourcing new nonprofits to support. If you’re not receiving applications from emerging organizations and/or organizations led by ethnically diverse leaders, repeat Step 1. If you’re actively reaching out to the communities you intend to support but are still funding primarily larger organizations, it may be that your process is too burdensome. Remove any unnecessary logistical, technical or technological barriers to requesting funding. Consider phone calls or site visits instead of applications for organizations that may not have the resources to apply.
Another option is to accept applications previously submitted to other funders. Challenge yourself to consider whether an application is necessary. You may be able to access all of the information you need to make an informed decision from IRS filings or other readily available public information.
Many donors assess an organization’s capacity to receive and effectively deploy additional funding on the basis of prior grants or personal connections. Again, many organizations led by and serving people subject to racial inequity often are undercapitalized, which makes them more vulnerable to closure in hard times. Think about whether your giving decisions perpetuate this cycle of inequity in giving. If you focus on capital or project-based funding, keep in mind that general operating support can be especially helpful to all organizations as they strive to be agile in response to evolving community needs.
Tolerance for uncertainty
The journey toward bold social change may be circuitous or contain dead ends. Organizations that focus on racial justice are often required to adapt to rapidly changing conditions. That may lead to a range of outcomes that are unanticipated or may differ from those initially envisioned. Your willingness to deploy philanthropy as risk capital will pay dividends, possibly in ways you may not expect and on a timeline you can’t predict.
Step 3 – Ongoing Evaluation and Education
Consider your indicators of progress and success. Are you hoping to diversify your list of grantees? Are you seeking to create a committee comprised of community voices? Are you looking for a change in composition of your board or staff?