SDG Podcast: Equity in Philanthropy

Friday, December 22, 2017

America's Finest Funders is a podcast that provides expert insight inspiration and practical ways you can make a difference in your community through philanthropy.

In the third episode of the San Diego Grantmakers podcast, SDG President & CEO Nancy Jamison is joined by staff members Megan Thomas and Annie VanDan to discuss the importance of incorporating equity in philanthropy and how the SDG organization is doing so through trainings and programs. San Diego Grantmakers defines equity as the common good is served by creating systems and opportunities that lead to equity for all – regardless of race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, or socio-economic status.

Megan Thomas, Vice President of Collaboration & Special Initiatives, provides data from the National Equity Atlas showing income gaps and other inequities that exist in San Diego County. The top 20% of the nation’s highest earners have seen their income grow by 18 to 27 percent, whereas the bottom 20% have seen their income decrease by 6 to 8 percent, showing the income gap is widening.

 When San Diego Grantmakers committed to really weaving equity into our work, we said, ‘we need to get a foundation for our staff and our board so we have a common definition of equity, so we are doing training and we started with race. We know in that long list of identifiers, ways that people identify, it’s always race and ---. No matter what you are talking about whether it is class or gender, race always plays a role in that so we are doing extensive training so that staff can get comfortable with their own identity and understand how race plays into systemic distinctions.” – Megan Thomas

Left to right: Annie VanDan, Jennifer James, Megan Thomas, Nancy Jamison

To continue the conversation on equity, SDG Communications Specialist Annie VanDan shares an example of a grantmaking process that focused more on aspects of diversity rather than equity and inclusion. She provides resources and tips on how to make the grantmaking process more equitable for nonprofits and communities. These include: Grantmaking with a Racial Equity Lens created by Grantcraft in partnership with Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity and Nonprofit AF’s Funders, your grant application process may be perpetuating inequity.

“Just because you have a diverse pool of applicants and a diverse selection committee, does not equate to equitable outcomes. In this example, the scoring rubric was set up to favor large organizations who had the time and resources to submit a thorough application with detailed budgets and logic models.. Segment your grant into two or more tracks, one for larger organizations, one for smaller organizations.” – Annie VanDan

Nancy provides additional toolkits including the common grant application for nonprofits in Missouri that includes diversity, equity and inclusion questions and also The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Race Equity and Inclusion Equity Guide.

One example of how pooled funds have had an impact on community is with San Diego Grantmakers’ Social Equity Collaborative Fund. In the last segment of the show, Nancy and Megan speak with Jennifer James of Harder and Company, who is a member of the Social Equity Collaborative Fund. This group of funders recently finished a round of grants supporting organizations and projects that increase the connectivity of equity work in San Diego County, in areas such as education, incarceration, food justice, racial justice, and much more.

When discussing the grantmaking process for the fund, Jennifer James explains, “We were able to simplify the process. I remember all of the times you were meeting with folks, you were on the phone with them, with the applicants before they even came on… We did have a scoring structure where we scored everybody from and we had a lot of difficult conversations like, what do we actually mean by this?”

Nancy concludes that philanthropy is not in this equity work alone. Philanthropy plays a role but systemic changes will not take place unless other sectors, such as government and business, join hands with the philanthropic sector in this work. She quotes Fred Ali, CEO of the Weingart Foundation, “There is a growing number of civic and business leaders who recognize the scales of justice are tipped too far in one direction.” There needs to be intentional and specific investment in underserved, underinvested and often racially diverse communities so there can be improvement in all of the region.

Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this episode, please share with your colleagues and if you want to continue the conversation online, tweet us at @SDGrantmakers. San Diego Grantmakers believes in an equitable, collaborative and impactful social change ecosystem that improves the lives of all residents in our region. Thank you for contributing to this vision.

Find More By
News type