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Greenlining report on foundation board diversity

June 2, 2009

Last week, the Greenlining Institute released its much-anticipated report on diversity among private foundation board members.  As you all may know, board members of private foundations play a crucial role in making grant funding decisions, distributing funds from foundation endowments established by wealthy individual donors, families, and corporations.

Two findings of the report were particularly interesting:

  1. Foundations with diverse boards are also overwhelmingly the most diverse in their grantmaking; 47.1% of all grants to people of color-led organizations in 2005 were made by the foundations with the top 10 most diverse boards.
  2. 13 of the 46 of the largest foundations have no people of color on their board of directors at all… and 69.6% have no Asian Americans on their boards at all.

What are the reasons for such a drastic gap?  Are foundations intentionally overlooking Asian board members?  Or are Asian Americans not donating and networking with foundation leaders to learn of such opportunities?

Over at Asian American Giving, Dien asks:

[I]f you were Asian American and serve on a foundation board, would your community receive more funds? Are you the voice for your community?  If you were Asian American and worked at a foundation, would your community receive more funds because you were there and you would direct funds to your community?  How realistic are these expectations?

What do you all think?  Do you or any South Asians you know serve on foundation or nonprofit boards?

(Hat tip to Nonprofit Law Prof Blog.)

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