Amplify Blog

Insights and ideas directly from New Profit

March 2, 2017

Our second day of the Gathering began with an amazing discussion focused on diversity, equity and inclusion as it pertains to the efforts of funders and fundraisers. These two sessions focused on the urgency within the funder and fundraiser communities to drive impact. Stay up to date on all of our discussions via our live stream.

Part One: The social innovation field has been grappling with racism and other forms of bias, all of which have taken center stage at past Gatherings. This year, we're excited to extend that conversation to funders, utilizing fresh data on the Gathering community from the recent survey led by our partners at Deloitte to kick us off.

“How are you all making your own organizations diverse, equitable and inclusive?” - Dana O’Donovan

Leading the conversation was Dana of the Monitor Institute. “How do we extend the conversation of diversity, equity of inclusion?” Noting the importance of turning these principles of diversity, equity and inclusion into the practice of the every day work of social entrepreneurs. “There’s a gap between our commitment and our ability to put these principles into practice,” she concluded.

“We are implementing an equity framework to support our social entrepreneurs,” - Cheryl Dorsey

Cheryl, of Echoing Green, continued the discussion of turning these principles into practices, specifically through the power of data. “This work around equity is all about data,” she added, highlighting the value of applying these principles to the search, selection and support capabilities of Echoing Green’s network. “Open up the selection process, make it radically transparent, work with your community to be your spokespeople, provide information sessions, serve as mentors to advocate throughout the process,” she concluded, listing some of the core practices Echoing Green is implementing to support their equity framework.

“There wasn’t enough diversity in the sector- so we challenged ourselves to do better,” Christy Chin

Following Cheryl discussion of data was Christy of the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, who highlighted the importance of transparency, accountability and urgency within the social impact space to implementing these practices. “We want to meet entrepreneurs where they are and help them from there,” she said, acknowledging the support that’s necessary to support social entrepreneurs of minority communities.

“We think of diversity, equity and inclusion on a couple levels of analysis: our staff and team, our portfolio of who we fund, and the communities in which we convene,” - Doug Borchard

Doug of New Profit wrapped up the discussion, focusing on the value in the various areas that lend themselves to turning these core principles into practice. “There’s never been a time where we haven’t been wrestling with these dimensions,” he said of New Profit’s emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion. “The single biggest thing we did was shift the conversation internally to a much broader one about the culture of our organization,” noting the value of creating a more robust pipeline from the team, to the portfolio, to the community.

Part Two: Funder-grantee relationships are complex, and the dynamic of this relationship can often impact the ability of an organization’s ability to drive impact. What could we accomplish if we could struggle with these pressures together? What if shared vulnerability and transparency could add rocket fuel to funder-grantee partnerships? What would this transformation look like in action?

Marco Davis of New Profit led a discussion with Alex Bernadotte of Beyond 12, Sheila Herrling of the Case Foundation and Jessamyn Shams-Lau of Peery Foundation to begin digging into these questions.

“We are extremely hard on each other and we put a lot of pressure on one another to be this one thing,”- Sheila Herrling

Sheila kickstarted the discussion of these complex relationships by highlighting how innately counteractive they are. “We need to create a common language on how we identify ourselves as both funders and grantees,” naming a potential solution. “The most important thing we can spend our time doing is to focus on authenticity and impact, and build a community of diverse alliances,” she concluded, acknowledging how these relationships can change and grow to create the upmost impact.

“We have to be more efficient with our inputs of time, money and relationships,” Jessamyn Shams-Lau

Jessamyn continued along those same lines, highlighting the value of time, money and relationships simultaneously. “We need to explore what it looks like to have interactions that only strengthen the grantees ability to have impact,” she noted, as opposed to spending time where it isn’t needed or deserved. “Making time as high of a value as possible,” she concluded, acknowledging the vitality of harnessing time in the most effective and efficient way to support the funder-grantee relationship.

“We are equals, we come to the table as equals, we have conversations as equals,”
- Alex Bernadotte

Alex wrapped up the discussion, honing in on the power of the grantee centered approach. “Approach your funding relationships standing up- not kneeling,” she said of the approach that is making it’s way through the social impact space. Circling back to Jessamyn and Sheila’s earlier comments on time, Alex named time the most important commodity for social entrepreneurs, alongside relationships built on mutual gratitude.


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