Results of the Fund’s JEDI Snapshot

At the Walter & Elise Haas Fund, we know that when we invest in programs and policies that benefit those experiencing the worst inequities, we not only improve people’s lives; we also improve outcomes for whole communities. Research, practice, and the lived experience of those closest to the issues also teach us that structural change moves the needle towards equity and justice most effectively. Philanthropy, however, has not yet fully embraced and acted upon this clear evidence.

We aim to change that, starting with a JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion) snapshot of our grantmaking.

Taking a Deeper Look at our Grantmaking

Profound social inequities and inequitable distribution of philanthropic resources significantly affect the Bay Area. This challenge, as well as the urgency of the current pandemic and racial reckoning, motivated the Fund to examine its own grantmaking using a JEDI lens. We took a snapshot of our current grantmaking, to collect and analyze data on the following indicators:

  • JEDI approaches;
  • Grant subject matter;
  • Grant strategies;
  • Population served by age, race/ethnicity, gender, faith, and ability;
  • Grantee leader demographics;
  • Organizational budget size;
  • Organizational funding history with W&EHF; and
  • Grant duration.

We examined grants the Fund awarded in 2019 and 2020 in the Arts, Creative Work Fund, Disaster, Education, Economic Security, Jewish Life, and Safety Net program areas; in 2020 for COVID-19 Rapid Response grants; and from 2016 through 2020 for Capital grants (including more years here as we award only a small number of Capital grants each year).

Snapshot Findings

The snapshot revealed several important findings:

  • Over half of the Fund’s grant dollars supported equity approaches, with smaller proportions supporting diversity (46%) and inclusion (42%), and the smallest proportion of dollars going to justice (21%).
  • Only 30% of dollars went to policy and systems change. Organizing/power building accounted for just 17% of our grants. In the program areas where grantmaking strategy has been intentionally designed to support a larger amount of policy and organizing efforts, a higher proportion of funding went to justice-focused work.
  • Almost one-quarter of funding focused on Black, Indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC); 7% centered on women, girls, and gender expansive individuals; and 17% went towards people with disabilities.
  • Organizations with annual budgets of less than $1 million received 16% of W&EHF’s funding, with most given as single-year awards.
  • Most of the COVID-19 rapid response funding supported organizations taking equity approaches to their work. Additionally, a large majority of the funding (80%) went to direct service efforts. One-quarter of funds supported youth-focused efforts.

What This Means for the Future

This JEDI snapshot suggests several implications for the Fund’s grantmaking.

Organizing/power building and policy and systems change are two primary strategies that drive justice and equity. These data suggest we need to increase funding to these strategies.

We also see a need for greater collaboration in areas where the Fund’s program areas overlap in terms of addressing justice and equity. Dismantling barriers often requires more creative strategies and more substantial resources. As structural and cultural changes require a long view — and thus sustained funding over time — the Fund also needs to make more multiyear grants (currently 39% of grantmaking).

We see that the intention we take in regard to policy and systems change investments should also be applied to how we address populations of focus and organizational leadership in our grantmaking. Though we far outperform the Bay Area philanthropic sector in terms of percentage of funding going to BIPOC communities (33% vs. 2%), we are still far short of proportional and equitable funding; people who identify as BIPOC make up 60% of our region’s population. These communities have faced the greatest historical oppression and have the poorest outcomes on many indicators of health and prosperity.

Our JEDI snapshot also revealed where the Fund needs to improve its own data collection practices. For example, we had sparse data on the race and ethnicity of our grantees’ leadership, staff, and clients. This made it difficult to adequately assess how well we are supporting BIPOC-led nonprofits. We will consider requesting this information via our grant application, while sharing our reasons for doing so. A survey by the Center for Effective Philanthropy found that only 31% of leaders are asked by their funders about their staff’s demographics, even though 88% reported that their funders ask about the demographics of the populations they serve. In addition, 87% of these leaders reported that they would be comfortable sharing this information, with respondents expressing their desire to learn how their funders will use these data.

This deep look at our progress towards justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in our work has set a vital baseline for the Fund. We will continue to share with you what we learn as we use these findings to improve our grantmaking policies and practices and more effectively support our grantees to advance equity and justice in the Bay Area and beyond.

Blog, Grantmaking, Reflection

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