Championing diversity in the grant-giving sector

In this blog, the Grant Givers’ Movement outlines the result of its latest survey on diversity and inclusion.

The Grant Givers’ Movement is a non-hierarchical gathering of those working in the grant-giving sector. It’s a space for those who feel passionate about making positive change in and through philanthropy to do so with collective power behind them. Our sector pulse surveys shine a light on the inherent problems within the grant-making world and through highlighting these we seek to spark meaningful change.

Diversity, Equality and Inclusion

Over 130 grant-making staff gave their views on issues of diversity, inclusion and voice in UK grant-making. The survey revealed concerning – yet unsurprising – trends of discrimination and prejudice. 

Overall, trustee boards remain overwhelmingly white, male and middle class and our sector continues to value ‘professional’ experience over ‘lived experience’.

These findings are problematic for several reasons. A lack of diversity at board level is reflected through the grants that get made and the staff and trustee recruitment process. 70% of those interviewed felt that this lack of diversity within trustees and staff teams at grant-making organisations led to less diverse grant recipients.

Furthermore, our research suggests that working-class or BAME-led charities feel pressure to appoint board members or staff that mirror the organisations financing them in order to seem ‘fundable’. This is problematic as it prohibits those with the deepest insight of community needs from getting to positions where they can use their knowledge and experience to make real and lasting change.

These findings are not new; our work simply adds to the growing body of evidence that already exists. What is important to note is that our results are internal feedback from industry professionals, in our sector. A lack of diversity perpetuates inequality. This is undeniable and it requires urgent action.

What can you do?

A lack of diversity, equality and inclusion poses a nuanced problem which warrants solutions that reflect this complexity. The Grant Givers Movement is a clear, united voice supported by research. We have the platform to raise these issues as a collective and we want you to use this to leverage change within your own organisations. Addressing these issues requires brave, strong leadership. We urge you to:

  • Consider and review your own organisation and the way you approach diversity and inclusion;
  • Approach this issue with your trustees and develop an action plan; 
  • Pay attention, listen and support your staff and partner organisations; 
  • Above all, continue to engage, ask questions and challenge the status quo. 

Ignoring issues of diversity, equality and inclusion lead to less impactful grants, stagnation instead of innovation and frustration across the sector. Tackling this issue requires patience but the Grant Givers Movement exists to support and validate your push for change. Without the support of those in positions of power, the conversation cannot be transformed into action.

Please visit our website to read the full Sector Pulse Survey and keep up to date on the movement and our aims. To become part of the conversation – join our next meeting, connect with us on Twitter or sign up to our mailing list.

Photo by Matteo Paganelli on Unsplash

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