California Assembly Bill 624 – Foundation Diversity

The California Assembly passed Assembly Bill 624, introduced by Assemblyman Joe Coto (D – San Jose), on January 29, 2008.  AB624 requires every private, corporate, and operating foundations with assets over $250 million to collect and publicly disclose certain ethnic, gender, and sexual orientation data pertaining to its governance, operations, and grantmaking.  Such data would be required with respect to composition of the foundation’s board, its staff, its grantees, and even its vendors.  While the aim of the bill may have been to address the serious problem of diversity on the boards of larger private foundations, many have ridiculed the bill, saying that it is "absurdly intrusive" and "another example of the truly stupid ideas that many people believe should be imposed on or adopted by charities."

The Council on Foundations made the following statement about its opposition to AB624:  "[T]he Council on Foundations joins with the Northern California Grantmakers, the Southern California Grantmakers, and the San Diego Grantmakers in opposing AB624 because the state-mandated collection of the data listed in this legislation may be both burdensome to accurately collect, and would be onerous to the grantee organizations’ efforts (our nonprofit partners) to serve their clients."

David A. Lehrer and Joe R. Hicks commented on the bill in an op-ed piece published by the Los Angeles Times on January 31, "Asking too much:  A state bill puts big foundation’s employees and others under a microscope."  Charity Governance also blogs on the bill here.

You can learn more about AB624 here.