Diversity, Equity & Inclusion - Exponent Philanthropy

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

The intentional inclusion of diverse perspectives leads to better decision making, more equitable outcomes, and a greater philanthropic impact. That is why we are committed to cultivating a culture that advances diversity, equity and inclusion within our organization and among our community.

Our Commitment

Advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in our community of lean funders, and among the philanthropic field more broadly, is one pillar in our five-year strategic plan. In January 2019, our board formally adopted the following resolution:

The Board endorses and supports the staff of Exponent Philanthropy as they continue to develop knowledge and command of a racial equity framework to support not only our internal policies and practices, but also to inform our members, through focused attention on equity, diversity and inclusion.

Our Journey

We are on a journey to understand, embrace and champion equity in every sense of the word, learning side by side with the funders in our community, growing together, and inspiring one another. We graciously thank our guides on this learning journey:

ABFE: A Philanthropic Partnership for Black Communities

Equity in the Center


Service Never Sleeps

Wayfinding Partners

Our Actions

It isn’t enough to just talk about embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion practices; change requires action. We are a small staff and board, and together we are taking steps to educate ourselves individually and collectively on issues of equity, while also implementing policies to build a culture that advances diversity, equity, and inclusion within our organization and our community. These initiatives include:

  • Organizing staff and board trainings on racial equity in partnership with: Borealis Philanthropy, ABFE, Service Never Sleeps, and others.
  • Engaging a diverse group of speakers to share their expertise at conferences and programs
  • Creating definitions of “diversity, equity, and inclusion”
  • Participating in the Racial Equity in Philanthropy (REP) Fund cohort
  • Refining internal policies, hiring practices and position postings
  • Reviewing and refining our brand guide to ensure it is consistent with our strategic plan and is reflective of our inclusive values
  • Developing conferences, programs and resources that encourage lean funders to evaluate their impact with an equity lens
  • Sharing best practices in our community through member stories

Become an Equity Sustaining Partner

This special designation is an opportunity for corporate partners who support equity learning and practices in the philanthropic sector to join our community on its equity journey. Opportunities for deeper engagement include webinars, annual reports, facilitated discussions, specialized programs, virtual gatherings and more.

Contact us to learn more about becoming an Equity Partner>>

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Resources


Building Equity Into Your Foundation’s DNA
How does philanthropy begin to embed equity into grantmaking, policies, and culture? Healthy Communities Foundation has been on a journey to address this question by advancing health equity through a racial equity lens. This report describes that journey and offers practical ways of inspiring action so you can integrate equity into your foundation’s DNA. Learn how to build equity into your foundation’s DNA >>


Essentials: Paradigm Shifts
In one article, ABFE makes the urgent case for philanthropy to significantly increase its investment in strengthening the infrastructure for resources directed toward Black-led social change. The Black Social Change Funders Network (BSCFN) recommends that philanthropy, both foundations and donors, prioritize sustained, long-term investments in Black-led infrastructure in seven key areas. Keep reading “What Should Philanthropy Do?” in Essentials >>


Racial Equity in Lean Foundations
This publication contains Exponent Philanthropy’s most recent findings on racial equity in lean foundations. Collected through FOMR data, surveys, and interviews with members, this report centers on the relevance of racial equity to our members’ mission, as well as their board and staff demographics. We also describe how racial equity relates to good governance, grantmaking, and investment practices. Get your free copy!

Relevant Resources from the Field

There are a lot of resources in the field to support equity work. Here are a few that are particularly relevant to lean funders:

  • Awake to Woke to Work: Building a Race Equity Culture: Centers on how your organization can build a race equity culture at your organization. This report asks readers to examine the four levels in which racism operates (individual, interpersonal, institutional, and structural), and adopt and anti-racist mindset to create a more inclusive and equitable organizational culture.
  • Grantmaking with a Racial Equity Lens: From Grantcraft, in collaboration with the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity. This guide offers advice on how to deepen your foundation’s commitment to racial equity internally, and in the community, by sharing first-hand experiences and practical guide from foundation leaders.
  • Hill Snowdon Foundation: Values to Vision: Exponent Philanthropy member, the Hill-Snowdon Foundation, shares their foundation’s journey to link their values to vision– which means embracing racial equity. Changing the foundation’s giving didn’t happen overnight. The report shares the gradual steps it has taken over the years to address the root causes of social inequities through learning, evaluation, and listening to their grantee partners.
  • NCRP Power Moves Toolkit: This toolkit is a comprehensive toolkit to help your foundation assess how well you are building, sharing, and wielding your power and identifies steps your foundation can take to improve your programs and operations for more equitable impact. The toolkit includes self-assessments and discussion questions to guide your journey.
  • Operationalizing Equity: Putting the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Racial and Ethnic Equity and Inclusion Framework into Action: This report shares the journey of how the Annie E. Casey Foundation put their racial and ethnic equity framework into action. The report covers where to start, how to bring staff along the journey, and how to implement strategies across various functions of the foundation.

Resources to Support BIPOC Communities

As an organization, we have work to do to practice “allyship,” and act on these sentiments and intentions consistently. We recognize that we need to be better at cultivating relationships and being in community with individuals who are Black, Indigenous, People of Color, as well as BIPOC-led organizations—to authentically “stand with” them.

ABFE: A membership-based philanthropic organization that advocates for responsive and transformative investments in Black communities. Its mission is to promote effective and responsive philanthropy in Black communities.

Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy: A membership-based organization that centers equity and justice in philanthropy to move money and build power of AAPI communities for an inclusive democracy.

Funders for LGBTQ Issues: Works to increase the scale and impact of philanthropic resources aimed at enhancing the well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities, promoting equity, and advancing racial, economic and gender justice.

Grantmakers in Aging: An inclusive and responsive membership organization that is a national catalyst for philanthropy, with a common dedication to improving the experience of aging.

Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees: The nation’s only immigrant-focused PSO whose mission is to galvanize philanthropy to advance immigrant justice and belonging.

Hispanics In Philanthropy: Strengthening Latinx leadership, influence and equity by leveraging philanthropic resources.

International Funders for Indigenous People: The only global donor affinity group dedicated solely to Indigenous peoples around the world. IFIP has built momentum toward a new movement in philanthropy that recognizes Indigenous communities as high-impact investments.

Jewish Funders Network: Works with Jewish funders, at the individual and collective levels, to improve the quality of their giving and maximize their impact.

Native Americans in Philanthropy: A membership-based organization that promotes reciprocity and investment in, with and for Native peoples.

Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity: Increasing the amount and effectiveness of resources aimed at combating institutional and structural racism in communities through capacity building, education, and convening of grantmakers and grantseekers.

Philanthropy Women: Discusses funding for gender equity in all sectors of society including health, education, the arts, science and technology, music and entertainment, politics, and sports.

World Congress of Muslim Funders: A global network of affluent individuals, foundations, and socially responsible corporations, established to advance effective and accountable giving.

Recommendations for racial equity coaching