Report Examines Philanthropy's Response to Changing Demographics in America

While important initiatives have been launched by individual foundations to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion, philanthropy as a field has more work to do to stay ahead of the changing face of America, a new report from D5, a coalition of funders, community activists, and thought leaders, finds.

Drawing on the sucessess and challenges of philantthropic leaders to create a more diverse sector in 2012, the report, State of the Work (34 pages, PDF), found that it is unclear whether philanthropy is ahead or behind changing national demographic trends — in part, because only a small number of foundations share demographic information about their boards, staff, and grantees, and those that do tend not to be representative of the sector as a whole. Moreover, only funding that is specifically identified as benefiting a given community is counted toward funding for that community.

In addition to urging foundations to help the coalition improve data collection mechanisms that can be used to determine whether the sector is keeping up with demographic changes in the country as a whole, the report shares lessons learned by several public and private institutions, including the American Express Foundation and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The report also offers suggestions for determining how diversity, equity, and inclusion can help increase philanthropic effectiveness — and provides concrete ideas for how to translate those values into action.

"It's vital that philanthropy stays ahead of the changing face of our constituencies in order to effectively meet the needs of those we seek to benefit," said D5 Coalition director Kelly Brown. "Unfortunately, philanthropy lacks a data collection mechanism to accurately answer whether, as a field, we are ahead of or behind these trends. It is our hope that foundation will join us in imporving the data collection — and then be transparent with the results so we can learn and improve."