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Eliminating Implicit Bias in Grant-Making Practice

Nancy Chan and Pamela Fischer
Eliminating Implicit Bias in Grant-Making Practice

Some of philanthropy’s core practices may unwittingly be leading funders to perpetuate the inequities they’re trying to eliminate. In an article originally published by the Stanford Social Innovation Review, we examine how.

From our Stanford Social Innovation Review article:

few weeks ago, we led a well-received session at the Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy national conference that focused on how funders can incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) principles into their grant-making to better achieve their mission. Our experience (at the conference and beyond) suggests there is widespread appreciation within the social sector for the principles and goals of DEI, but there are huge gaps in our understanding of which populations ultimately benefit from grant dollars—and from what we do know, the distribution is not particularly equitable. In fact, according to the D5 Coalition, less than seven percent of grant dollars went toward ethnic or racial minorities in 2013, even though these individuals comprise nearly 40 percent of the US population. What’s more, only six percent of grant dollars went to people with disabilities, though they represent 12 percent of the population. And so on; the trend continues.

Why is this the case? In large part because, in their effort to ensure that grant dollars go toward effective organizations, many philanthropists have adopted grant-making practices that can actually perpetuate the unequal distribution of funds. For example, traditional grant-making practice tends to favor organizations that have existing relationships with funders and dedicated development staff, which better position them to garner philanthropic support. As a result, less funding may make its way toward smaller organizations, many of which may be serving similarly under-resourced communities. Such implicit bias may lead some funders to fall short of their own goals to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.

To learn more about why this is happening and what can be done, continue reading the original article here.


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