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How to create and maintain an equitable grantmaking process

April 09, 2021
This image shows a diverse team of grantmakers discussing how to create an equitable grantmaking process.

Creating an equitable grantmaking process requires your grantmaking organization to analyze its process from start to finish. 

Grant announcements may not reach nonprofit community leaders who are outside of grantmaking circles. Like many other aspects of philanthropy, grant announcements and other opportunities often require prior inclusion through listservs, email lists, and other grantmaker announcement resources.

Having prior access and inclusion to these spaces is essential to knowing about these opportunities. Smaller nonprofit organizations and Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and People of Color (BILPOC) nonprofit leaders often don’t have connections to these networks.  

Because of historic BILPOC exclusion and intentional access limitations, factors like the ‘unknown’ and ‘grantmaker mystery’ also play a big role in opportunity access. In other words, nonprofit leaders who were historically excluded from these opportunities may not have extensive knowledge of how to navigate the grantmaking process. For instance, nonprofit leaders, especially those new to philanthropy, assume that all grant applications require a funder invitation or “permission” to apply.

In this guide, we’ll discuss how you can start implementing more equitable grantmaking processes to reach and include more diverse organizations.

Ensuring equal opportunity in your grantmaking process

To help members of marginalized communities understand the process of grantmaking and grant submission, your organization must openly share information in a way that aims to connect with historically excluded BILPOC nonprofit leaders.  

When was the last time your team examined your organization's grant announcement process and administration through the lens of access and inclusivity? Community leaders and practitioners that are closest to the grantmaking process have the most inherent knowledge. Support their efforts by bridging opportunities and ensuring grants are accessible and inclusive. Increased inclusion and accessibility should be indicators of success and key goals for your organization.

If you are unsure of where to start, begin by asking yourself, “How do people find our organization and support process if they don’t know about us?” Ask peer funders how and where they share and announce their grants beyond their own website, and consider adding a grant process Q&A page on your website.

Questions to consider when reviewing your organization's grant announcements

There are many factors to consider as you rework your grantmaking process to improve inclusion and accessibility. To start improving accessibility to grant announcements for marginalized nonprofit leaders, ask the following questions:

  • Are your grant announcements and consideration processes readily and widely accessible beyond your website?  
  • Are grants advertised in a way that demonstrates your organization is authentically looking for equitable impact?  
  • Is the grantmaking process clear and descriptive?  
  • Do you hold open information sessions to bridge the information and access gap?  
  • Do you direct applicants who are not yet prepared to receive a grant from your organization to knowledge and capacity-building resources to support their growth?  
  • Do you know who the key and rising BILPOC leaders are within your community of practice?  
  • How open and accessible is your organization to connecting with established and new, rising nonprofit leaders?  
  • Who within your grantee landscape are you not funding and why?

These questions can help you extend opportunities to more organizations by identifying potential barriers for smaller nonprofits and BILPOC leaders. From there, you can continue to clarify other grant processes, introduce more historically marginalized groups and leaders to your network, and fund a more diverse group of grantees and causes.

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