In addition to the Covid-19 pandemic, the last two years brought a reckoning on racial and economic inequality that brought about personal reflection or exhaustion, and changes in the business practices of nearly every industry, philanthropy included.

The ensuing programs and initiatives are commonly referred to as “diversity, equity and inclusion,” or DEI. The goal of DEI programs and initiatives is to increase the presence of different races, sexes, religions, sexual orientations, and more, while fostering a sense of belonging for all and ensuring every individual has equal opportunity and chance for success. In the world of philanthropy and nonprofits, it is critical to incorporate DEI practices into giving strategies and processes. 

Let’s take a look at how DEI work can be put to use in this year’s giving.

  1. Integrate, don’t separate. Rather than instituting a separate DEI policy, weave a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion into existing giving practices. For example, build out concrete processes to ensure grant opportunities are inclusive of diverse groups and that grantmaking is equitable. Choose diverse leadership and meet with other nonprofits, giving circles and philanthropy groups, with diverse backgrounds and missions, to share experiences.
  2. Explore and name biases. According to the National Council of Nonprofits, a key component to the success of DEI initiatives is understanding your own and your organization’s implicit and unconscious biases. Offer opportunities for members to learn about biases in a judgment-free zone and explore ways to prevent those biases from preventing equitable grant-making. Project Implicit is a great tool to test implicit associations as part of learning sessions.
  3. Lead with transparency. A Deloitte study on DEI in 2021 found that transparency from all organizations will become more and more unavoidable, as consumers, employers and donors demand more information from organizations of all types. The Future of Giving report from sparks&honey and the Morgridge Family Foundation came to a similar conclusion. Both reports show that AI, data and behavioral science tools will help to increase transparency as well as help organizations make more informed decisions with equity in mind. In the meantime, organizations can proactively make information available about grant-making, impact, donations, and more.

What other DEI trends have you noticed? Which do you think is most effective in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!