This article of mine can also be found at OnPhilanthropy. Thought you blog-readers might find it of interest as well!!
In the nonprofit sector, the concept of effectiveness, which started as a whisper is now a clear and distinct roar. The idea has spawned hundreds of articles describing the best possible theories, metrics and indicators to increase effectiveness in not only non-profits, as they deliver services, but in grantmakers, foundations and corporations, that provide the funding to do so. One of these theories, expounded on in the new book Effective Philanthropy: Organizational Success through Deep Diversity and Gender Equality by Mary Ellen S. Capek and Molly Mead, doesn’t deny the usefulness of the others, but offers what to many may be a new and novel idea: for philanthropy to be truly effective, corporate and foundation grantmakers need to apply the same organizational strategy of gender diversity and equality to all aspects of their grantmaking.
For those who have studied gender in any capacity, this is old news. But Capek and Mead incorporate discourses and debates on equality and equity with an argument for gender diversity that makes true business sense. Initially, the authors clearly define the key terms and parameters of their arguments in a way that puts readers coming at the book from a variety of lenses – academic, corporate, philanthropic, or gender based – on the same page.
There are two pieces to the “Deep Diversity” that the work promotes. The first is the necessity of increasing diversity within the organization. Many corporations already have diversity initiatives built into corporate strategy, particularly at increasing diversity in board and other senior management positions, but it is not always clear if this trickles down to foundation or grantmaking staff. The second is diversity in grantmaking and particularly using innovative approaches to think about structural change when funding projects directed at women and girls. In her forward, Susan Berresford, the president of the Ford Foundation, discusses how in the process of trying to truly mainstream gender into all its practices, the foundation found it was seeing more proposals that applied a gender lens to a larger field or institution, as opposed to individual projects that intended to “integrate women into formerly male domains” (popularly known as the “add women and stir” concept amongst those involved in gender mainstreaming). Diversity and gender equality in grantmaking is explored in great depth in a holistic way throughout the book. The authors argue that the synergy of the two pieces – institutionalized diversity and diversity in funding – is the most important insight gained from the research of the book; and that only when both pieces are in place can foundations truly be effective.
Critical to the success of the central argument of Effective Philanthropy is the idea that a commitment to gender diversity will not be truly effective unless looked at in tandem with issues of racial, socioeconomic, and other types of identities. Funders should always exercise “due diligence” regarding the ability of grantees to understand complex cultural differences which included, but are certainly not limited to, gender, race, culture, class, religion, or sexual orientation. Vitally, for a grantee to be effective in its program, all of these identities should be analyzed together, as well as the differential effects that programming might have on different individuals; as the authors state, “focusing on race or class apart from gender creates false dichotomies”. It is these false dichotomies that stand in the way of a program being truly effective in its target community.
With its focus on organized philanthropy, its clear and logical arguments and excellent case studies, Effective Philanthropy is a work that is, at a bare minimum, effective in making the case for gender diversity in all aspects of the philanthropic realm.
For more information:
Women In Philanthropy
Learn about the Book
Learn about Diversity in Business