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Moving to Action to Advance Racial Equity: Examples from Community Foundations

As private and family foundations consider how they can advance equity in their organizations, they could look to community foundations for guidance. Here's a sampling of actions we've seen community foundations take.

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Since 2020, as COVID-response grantmaking and local conversations about racial justice pushed many community foundations to action, community foundations have played a powerful role in directing resources to organizations meeting the greatest needs and catalyzing conversation and learning among donors and other community stakeholders. As private and family foundations consider how they can advance equity in their organizations, they could look to community foundations for guidance.

We’ve seen firsthand the actions community foundations are taking to advance racial equity through research on community foundation practices and a peer cohort of 12 community foundations we facilitated in 2021. Community foundations are making changes at various levels of their organizations. Many have had success aligning internally around a point of view as to why racial equity matters to their mission. Many have also made changes to their discretionary grantmaking—both in terms of how they give and who they give to—in pursuit of greater equity and inclusion. And some are trying new approaches to engage donors in conversations about racial equity and inspire greater giving from donors to BIPOC communities and in support of racial equity.

The following list is a sampling of actions we have seen community foundations take. Consider which ones you might be able to take or what additional ideas this sparks for you.

Gaining internal buy-in

  • Develop new grantmaking policy around equity
  • Communicate progress already made towards equity to donors, staff, and board
  • Develop policy to screen against hate groups for all donor-advised gifts
  • Develop messaging to communicate the foundation’s point of view on racial equity to donors

Supporting the capacity of BIPOC-led organizations

  • Provide capacity-building for BIPOC-led organizations
  • Connect BIPOC leaders to donors and other funders

Making social norms more visible

  • Develop racial equity donor champion circle for peer learning and sharing on how to bring a racial equity lens to philanthropy
  • Collect disaggregated data to have clarity on amount of resources going to BIPOC communities

Feedback and strengthening identity

  • Partner with BIPOC-led organizations to help donors understand the impact of their giving so they will continue to give to these organizations and encourage other donors to do the same

Curation, “endowing” trust on charities

  • Social media posts highlighting BIPOC-led/community-based grantees
  • Highlight BIPOC-led/community-based orgs in philanthropic advising recommendations
  • Create fund focused entirely on racial equity

Using the endowment for impact

  • Aligning investments and investment management with foundation values, and to advance racial equity


Advancing racial equity inside organizations and in communities will require ongoing learning that will never be complete. It is important to find ways to take meaningful action while continuing to learn. Consider what small steps you might take to begin to make progress toward larger changes.

Applications are open for our 2022 community foundation cohort focused on increasing support to BIPOC communities. Learn more here.


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