Twitter RSS


Who works in philanthropy? Where do philanthropic dollars go? In our era of big data and in a field that recognizes the importance of data, the collection and sharing of demographic data has remained elusive, limiting philanthropy’s ability to assess and communicate about its impact.

D5 is working with partners to ensure that philanthropy has the systems in place to baseline, track, and be more transparent about its progress on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Critical to this capacity is building the field’s ability and willingness to collect and share demographic data about who works in and leads philanthropic institutions, and about who benefits from philanthropic investments.

Our priority:

Support the development of systems and foster commitment for collecting and sharing internal foundation diversity data (i.e., staff, boards, vendors) and constituent data (i.e., populations that benefit from philanthropic dollars as well as the demographic composition of organizations supported by philanthropic dollars).

In this section:

D5’s Data Focus

  • Researching and advancing best practices for organizational demographic data collection
    • D5 researched and consulted with a wide range of stakeholders to identify best practices about what information to ask for, how to ask for it, and tools for collecting the information.
    • Due diligence included consultation with legal counsel that informed the standards for demographic data collection. GuideStar drew upon the best practices to pilot a demographic profile in its GuideStar Exchange. Read more about this program here and see the approach in the GuideStar Exchange.
    • Recommended guidelines for demographic data collection are to:
      • Balance between simplicity and breadth
      • Incorporate core standardized questions and customize fields according to an organization’s needs
      • Use consistent terms and language
      • Ensure voluntary participation in providing information and collect information about individuals as they publicly self-identify
      • Build buy-in within organizations that are collecting and sharing information by explaining why it’s important, and connect the data to impact
  • Aligning with other philanthropic data effortsSupporting coordination across different organizations, systems, and approaches is a major focus of D5’s work through convenings, research, and the facilitation of connections and working relations across partner organizations. Promote participation in “Get on the Map” a partnership between the Foundation Center and The Forum of Regional Associations that encourages foundations to report their grants data for aggregated analysis on constituencies served and impacted.
  • Increasing the will and commitment to collect demographic data so philanthropic impact in rapidly changing environments can be effectively assessed and understood. D5 shares its lessons learned and engages others in the data conversation through convenings, webinars, conference presentations, and publications, in addition to individual engagement with partners and colleagues.

For more information on D5’s Data work, contact To keep updated on the partnership and diversity data collection news, go here.

Insights on Diversity Commissioned Research

We believe that advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion helps us live up to our commitment to serve the common good. But the field of philanthropy lacks conclusive research to make the case that it also enhances effectiveness. Data are critical to tracking our progress and our impact. To identify the most effective policies and tools philanthropic leaders can draw upon to help drive meaningful change, D5 commissioned three research projects that were published in 2014:

Study 1: Vision and Voice: The Role of Leadership and Dialogue in Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion 

Philanthropy Northwest, in partnership with the Seattle University Nonprofit Leadership Program, explored the role of leadership in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in philanthropy. The participatory research project engaged high-level executives in a peer learning network, and studied additional foundations to identify the practices, barriers, and organizational cultures that support diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Study 2: Philanthropic Paths: An Exploratory Study of the Career Pathways of Professionals of Color in Philanthropy 

This study conducted by Forward Change provides a holistic, in-depth picture of the career experiences of 43 philanthropic professionals of color ranging from Program Officers to CEOs working in a diverse array of foundations. The study surfaced a set of potentially common points of entry, career pathways and obstacles of professionals of color in philanthropy, as well as the factors that helped shape those pathways.

Study 3: Influencing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Practice: Partnering with Community and Nonprofits  

The OMG Center for Collaborative Learning investigated the systemic factors in the philanthropic sector that facilitate diversity, equity, and inclusion in grantmaking and nonprofit practices. Specifically, the project identified where there are opportunities for foundations to reinforce diversity, equity, and inclusion through interactions with their nonprofit partners and peer foundations.

Elusive Philanthropy Data: Opportunities and Barriers for Collecting Data to Tell Philanthropy’s Full Story

In partnership with Public Interest Projects, on March 27th, 2014, D5 hosted a webinar entitled, “Elusive Philanthropy Data: Opportunities and Barriers for Collecting Data to Tell Philanthropy’s Full Story.” Today, many foundations track and share data about DEI differently, or not at all. Despite the mountains of data that foundations do collect, philanthropy still cannot speak reliably about its impact. In this webinar, Brenda Henry-Sanchez of the Foundation Center, Eric Henderson a communications professional with years of experience in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors, and Beth Tuttle of The Cultural Data Project discuss the successes and challenges of data collection in philanthropy.

See our work: