There’s little to add to the extensive coverage fellow/sister bloggers have given the Council on Foundations’ annual meeting, but the Nonprofiteer found herself struck by the following report in the Chronicle of Philanthropy:
As foundations face increasing pressure to prove that they are effective, they must do more to get ideas and recommendations from people with a wider variety of backgrounds, Steve Gunderson, chief executive officer of the Council on Foundations said in an interview at the meeting.
Explaining the council’s new push for more "diversity" in areas such as race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation, Mr. Gunderson said foundations need to be better listeners and that means tapping the expertise of people who reflect the faces of the people they serve.
"We are not talking about quotas and impacts of ‘x’ amount of your board or your professional staff or your grants ought to be given in A,B, or C," he said in an interview. "What ought to be discussed is if we seek to be effective in a pluralistic and diverse society, diversity must be the foundation upon which we build our strategies."
The council’s board created a new position, director of diversity programs, to supervise projects to help diversify the foundation world, for example through fellowships, training, research, and by taking action to develop stronger ties to global philanthropy. That position is expected to be filled shortly, Mr. Gunderson said.
It’s terrific that in 2007 it’s finally occurred to foundations that they ought to actually engage in some of the diversity they demand of their grantees, though of course God forbid they should actually set numerical goals against which they could be measured. It’s not clear how "fellowships, training, research and . . . ties to global philanthropy" will diversify foundation boards, notoriously monochrome. People of color are already represented to a noticeable extent among foundation giving and program officers: that’s what foundation boards do instead of giving them real power.
Anyway, congratulations to the erstwhile Republican Congressman for noticing that there’s a problem.