Foundation Center Report on Giving to California Communities of Color

The Foundation Center has produced a report, "Embracing Diversity: Foundation Giving Benefiting California’s Communities of Color," highlighting key findings from their recent studies on diversity in philanthropy in California. The series of studies conducted by the Foundation Center was commissioned by Northern California Grantmakers (in partnership with Southern California Grantmakers) in August 2007. It attempts to fill a void left by previous studies on the population groups served by foundation grants which undercount the amount of giving that benefits ethnic or racial minority populations due to the “high-level” descriptions of the targeted populations of most grants, making it difficult to identify the demographic characteristics being served without more information.

Lawrence T. McGill (Senior Vice President for Research), Algernon Austin (Assistant Director of Research), and Brielle Byran (Research Assistant) authored this report based on the findings after studying grant data from 2005, analyzing 6,951 domestically focused (DF) grants of all sizes given by fifty large independent California foundations (with assets of $100 million or more) to California-based organizations. The studies included “1) an analysis of the extent to which grantmaking by large California foundations serves populations of color and 2) a survey of California foundations to collect baseline data on the demographic composition of their boards and staff and on the types of diversity related data-collection and grantmaking they are involved in.” The Foundation Center additionally estimated how many grants not clearly designated in their descriptions to benefit populations of color were actually serving ethnic or racial minority populations by analyzing a random sample of 200 of these grants from the 2005 data.

The Foundation Center acknowledges that although the data can “per se paint only a partial picture of the scope of foundation grantmaking that benefits populations of color,” key findings can deepen the understanding of the total grant dollars benefiting populations of color such as their conclusion that 75 percent of all DF grants explicitly designated to serve the economically disadvantaged also ultimately benefit populations of color. However, the authors also warn to not infer conclusions about the remaining DF grant dollars not accounted for in their studies and the populations they serve. The report is not an attempt to put “a hard number” on how much foundation giving actual benefits populations of color, but is instead their best attempt to provide a “lower-boundary estimate of how much such grantmaking is taking place” and represents “a first attempt to develop a comprehensive estimate of the extent to which populations of color are being served by foundation grantmaking.”

The full report in PDF format is accessible here.

We’ll follow up this week with a post on the Foundation Center’s briefing on "How California Foundations are Addressing Issues of Diversity."

– Emily Chan