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The State of Giving in Philanthropy: Some data and reflections

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On May 22, the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) released the latest fact sheets in their The Philanthropic Landscape series. NCRP released four factsheets: The State of Giving to Underserved Communities 2011The State of Social Justice Philanthropy 2011The State of General Operating Support 2011, The State of Multi-Year Funding 2011.  These fact sheets highlight important data from a study on 1,121 grantmaking organizations’ giving trends in 2011. They show very encouraging progress in the grantmakers’ efforts to be more impactful in their giving, and we are hopeful that these trends will continue in the future.

Some good news:

  • Foundation grant dollars intended to benefit marginalized communities is up slightly to 42 percent, an increase from the 40 percent average from 2008–2010. Meanwhile, one in five grantmakers was giving 50 percent or more for marginalized communities in 2011, compared to only one in eight from 2004–2006.
  • The reported share of foundation dollars classified as providing funding for operating support increased from 16 percent in 2008–2010 to 24 percent in 2011

A lesson emerged from these fact sheets: the importance of shared, standardized data and transparency among foundations. From these reports, we were able to learn about the impact that these foundations are making on the communities they are serving and whether grant dollars are going to where they are needed. While these giving trends show a hopeful sign for non-profits and communities in need, the reports also show that there are areas in which foundations still need to improve.  Data and reports such as these play a crucial role in informing the field on more impactful actions to best serve their constituents.

This is exactly what D5 wants to do in our work to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). We want foundations to be more transparent and more open to sharing their data on their diversity, equity and inclusion work. We want create a space in DEI work where organizations can make decisions informed by data and research, and measure both their achievements and shortcomings in advancing DEI.

As we highlighted in our State of the Work report, we believe that having transparency and standardized data in the field is vital in ensuring that foundations are able to track their progress and impact in a more meaningful way. For this reason, one of our priorities is to build a coordinated field-wide diversity research agenda and data collection system to help the sector track progress on diversity. You can read about our commissioned research here.

Like NCRP, we also believe in getting the message beyond the choir, which is why we place such importance on data and research.  We hope that our tools and resources page can serve as a learning network for foundations or organizations that want to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in philanthropy whether they have already committed to the work or just starting to think about it.

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