Inside Philanthropy

A blog on philanthropy and nonprofit news and issues. A publication of Philanthropy Journal.

June 26, 2013

Building a movement to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in philanthropy


Special to Philanthropy Journal

Kelly Brown

D5 is a coalition of organizations committed to making philanthropy more diverse, inclusive and equitable in its practices. But we are more than just that. We are a movement of dedicated people. And we are taking action.

As demonstrated in D5’s State of Work 2013 report, our movement continues to grow, as more people—from foundations large and small, individual donors, regional and national associations, and organizations that focus on diverse communities—recognize that advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in philanthropy is critical for achieving meaningful impact. The new voices and ideas they bring to the table help to strengthen our work—by asking new questions, suggesting alternative approaches and bringing fresh enthusiasm to striving for a goal that many of us have been working towards for decades.

It is important to challenge each other to tackle tough questions and to inspire each other to take the next steps. As we keep expanding beyond our original core of foundations and philanthropic infrastructure groups, we must recognize the progress we’ve made, while doing the hard work of reaching consensus on strategies for increasing diversity, equity and inclusion.

As a movement, we have a mandate—and an exciting opportunity—to pause at regular intervals and reflect on our progress. That’s been the purpose of the State of the Work reports dating back to the first major D5 publication in 2011. Once a year we show how this movement is unfolding and share the lessons learned from the successes and setbacks along the way. These lessons can help all of us who are interested in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion determine the first step (or the next step) that is right for our organizations.

This year’s report profiles a variety of foundations who have taken action, so that we can all learn from our peers in the field. The featured learning profiles were drawn from a deeper analysis of the best policies and practices. They reflect the growing range of institutions that engage diversity and inclusion as an essential component of excellence and effectiveness. And, they answer the all-important question that many people ask when they hear our big goal:  “Where do I start?”

The profiles highlight the urgency of action. D5 is working with our partners to build collective will for increased diversity, equity and inclusion in philanthropy. We plan to remain a source of information and guidance by continuing to raise awareness and providing tools and resources for people who are ready to take action.

But the success of this movement ultimately depends on all of you. To increase the impact and relevance of our field, more and more individuals must take on this work in their organizations. We all know that a report, after all, is just that: a report on our collective progress—which we hope will provide inspiration and ideas. But it’s not the “work” itself.

This is hard work. But it is a vital effort, and together we are making progress. Regardless of whether this cause is new or familiar to you, I would urge you to reach out to others—the Joint Affinity Groups, your regional association, the Council on Foundations or population-focused funds—to share what you’re learning and to strengthen the community of people who have come together with common purpose.

Our collective action on diversity, equity, and inclusion put us on a path toward greater impact in advancing the common good. We hope you will join us in this movement to strengthen philanthropy.

Kelly Brown is the director of D5 Coalition, a five-year effort to increase diversity in philanthropy. The 2013 State of the Work profiles the many leaders across the country who are taking important steps toward diversity and inclusion. Featuring insights from executives of the American Express Foundation, the Baltimore Community Foundation, Access Strategies Fund, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, Capek Consulting, Russell Family Foundation, and FSG, the report lays the groundwork for a more diverse sector going forward.


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