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State of the Work 2012: “Better Serving the Underserved”

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I’d like to take a minute to share some of the commentaries featured in the recently released State of the Work 2012. I am inspired by the philanthropic leaders who have taken on the challenge of addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the communities they serve and in their own organizations. As you take on or carry on this important work, I hope you also find inspirations in these stories of success. Here’s one from Carol Lewis of Philanthropy Northwest, a regional association that’s working to better serve Native Americans.       – Kelly

Philanthropy Northwest: Better Serving the Underserved

Five years ago, Philanthropy Northwest realized that there was significant underfunding of Native Americans in our community, and we decided to do something about it. But we needed a new approach because it was clear that our traditional methods of grantmaking were not getting the job done.

For us, Native communities are a vital sign that can gauge how well philanthropy is supporting diverse communities; they reflect our conviction that when properly understood, respected and supported, Native communities have the capacity to create a vibrant, healthy future for themselves.

We knew that we did not have the answer ourselves—we needed to learn more from those in the know. So we approached the Native Americans in Philanthropy affinity group, and the Potlatch Fund, the first community foundation of Native Americans focused on grantmaking in Indian Country.

One of our more memorable events, “Everything You Have Ever Wanted to Know about Native America, But Were Afraid to Ask,” packed the room, and gave interested grantmakers and nonprofits an opportunity to learn how they could maximize their impact in Native communities.

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