Employee Engagement and DEI in Corporate Grantmaking

Melissa Furr
Manager, Social Responsibility, Global Social Responsibility

Many companies are actively working to incorporate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) values into the grantmaking processes. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) practitioners are fortunate to have peers to learn from on this front. ACCP, Changing Our World, and YourCause recently released a report on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Corporate Grantmaking. The survey aimed to understand better how companies integrate DEI into their corporate giving and grantmaking programs.

Here are some key findings from the report:

  • Nearly 75% of companies have committed to intentionally addressing DEI in their grantmaking. The most common way for companies to address DEI via their grantmaking is through an “explicit emphasis on advancing DEI within other funding areas,” such as education, health, etc.
  • Within the past year, about 30% of companies have implemented new practices to address DEI within their grantmaking teams and processes.
  • 30% of companies have set a measurable goal to grow their DEI-aligned giving.

Employees can be a powerful resource for CSR practitioners who think through ways to address DEI in their grantmaking. Throughout the process, checking in with employees and gathering feedback is essential. Their perspectives often bring new ideas and constructive critiques of the current process. Ultimately this input can help increase DEI in grantmaking. Blackbaud’s Community Matters Grants program was previously site based, focusing on office locations as the primary structure for how grant cycles were planned. Employee feedback from focus groups emphasized a need to include all employees in the grantmaking process regardless of whether they were located near an office. This led to expanding the geographic regions for each grant cycle where every employee could participate.

Employees can also help create a more diverse portfolio of applicants by identifying eligible organizations. At Blackbaud, each employee can nominate organizations to apply for the grants program, creating an applicant pool that reflects a diverse geographic representation and many cause areas. All of this creates a more diverse applicant pool that we would not otherwise have by doing invitation only – based on organizations we were already familiar with. Tapping into Employee Resource Groups and affinity groups and doing tailored outreach to employees in specific regions can be a powerful tool in this process.

At the beginning of each application review period, a new cohort of employees is recruited to serve on the review committee. This constant rotation allows for a higher level of inclusion where many employees can experience what it means to be a grant maker – a valuable perspective they can then carry into their day-to-day role at the company.

These are just a few ways Blackbaud’s grantmaking process has changed to incorporate DEI values, and employees have been integral to these changes.

If you are looking for more examples of leveraging employee engagement in your efforts to incorporate DEI into grantmaking practices, join us for our session at the virtual ACCP Annual Conference, Employee Engagement in DEI Grantmaking.

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