While 77 percent of early- and mid-career foundation staff are proud to work at their organizations, only half believe their institution's work is relevant to what's happening in the world, a report from Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy finds.
Based on a survey of more than a hundred foundation professionals conducted in 2017, the report, Dissonance & Disconnects: How Entry and Mid-Level Foundation Staff See Their Futures, Their Institutions, and Their Field (21 pages, PDF), found that fewer than half of respondents said their foundations were in touch with the needs of the communities they support (40 percent), that they were accountable to those communities (32 percent), and that the communities had voice in the decision-making process (24 percent). In addition, only 51 percent of respondents perceived philanthropy to be an effective player in creating social change.
The survey also found that respondents generally rated their institutions toward the low end of the scale with respect to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), with many saying there was a sizable gap between the organization's goals and practices — citing, among other things, a disconnect between staff and board and between grantmaking staff and leadership, and a lack of shared understanding about what the practice of equity looks like. According to the report, grantmaking staff, especially at private and family foundations, rated their institutions lower than their non-grantmaking peers on nine of eleven DEI-related dimensions. For example, only 20 percent of grantmaking staff agreed or strongly agreed that their institution's board was a strong ally for equity, compared with 65 percent of non-grantmaking staff. And only 43 percent of respondents said they were able to bring all facets of their own identities (e.g., age, gender, race, class, sexual orientation) to work, while only 22 percent of respondents saw a future for themselves at their organizations and 55 percent saw themselves leaving the philanthropic sector within the next five years.
In addition, Latinx respondents were less likely than other groups to say they had an ally or advocate among senior leadership, felt a sense of belonging, and had the kind of influence they sought, whereas African-American respondents were more likely to report being seen as a leader, to see a future for themselves in philanthropy, and to feel there was a clear path to advancement.