Equity in Practice

We believe that investing in equity requires that our giving practices demonstrate equity. We strive to walk our talk through respectful, trusting relationships with grantees, funders and investors, and other colleagues.

Based on a decade of practice and feedback, we have learned that the following approaches create deep trust and authentic partnership with grantees.

9 Key Practices of Trust-Based Investment

There clearest way to demonstrate trust is to rely on the grantee to determine the best use of its resources. Unrestricted funding also kindles the freedom to learn, adapt and take risks. It is critical in supporting an organization’s sustainability and effectiveness.
The burden of proof in determining whether a leader and organization is a good fit for our portfolio is on us. We do the footwork and conduct the due diligence before inviting leaders to invest their time and attention.
We enter collaborations with humility by listening first and responding directly to the needs of our partners. Universally, they have much more knowledge of their work, fields and challenges than we do. We place ourselves shoulder to shoulder, not ahead of, our grantee partners as we iterate and learn, together.
Our two Co-Executive Directors, who are also Trustees, operate with an open door policy. We acknowledge and send requests in timely ways so as not to surprise or overburden our partners, who are busy changing the world.
We actively partner with leaders and organizations whose work models relationship, dialogue, and equity in ways that inspire and inform our own. We also regularly solicit, reflect on, and take action on feedback from our grantees.
We have empathy for the messy and complex inner workings of teams and organizations; we don’t want our grantees to have to pretend that change strategies are perfect or team dynamics are seamless. Consequently, we strive to model transparency in ways that minimize power dynamics and move the work forward.
We seek to minimize our digital and paper footprint with grantees, and are generally quite satisfied with proposals and reports crafted for other funders. We also look for opportunities to consolidate our respective due diligence efforts.
We are committed to offering support beyond money if our grantees see it as helpful. Some of the ways we do this include opening doors; highlighting their leadership and work; being a sounding board and source of advice; providing spaces for reflection; connecting and convening; and generally, being of service where needed to bolster leadership and organizational capacity.
Of the number of ways we offer support beyond the check, our grantees have lifted up the value of our retreats. We convene current (and some previous) grantees along with like-hearted funders and capacity builders to harness inspiration and renewal; encourage cross-sector connection; build and strengthen relationships; support peer learning; and encourage self-organized collaboration of all kinds.

Why and What We Fund

We believe efforts to create social, political, and economic equity will be strengthened and leveraged if dialogue and relationship-building processes are explicitly valued and resourced in a wide range of settings. Our eclectic, multi-issue funding portfolio reflects this belief with investments in efforts that currently include civic and community engagement, leadership development (grassroots and grass-tops), human rights, movement building and media and journalism.

In terms of whom we support, important considerations include organizations whose work demonstrates aligned values around the vitality of dialogue and relationships; strong, committed leadership; and results that have the potential to create wider ripples of inspiration.

We balance multi-year, unrestricted funding to organizational thought partners with targeted annual grants. This dual approach enables us to provide long-term, predictable grants to core partners with enough room to be nimble and support emerging opportunities as they arise.

Find out more about our grantees here.