A Call to Action: Trustee Advocacy to Advance Opportunity for Black Communities in Philanthropy

This Call to Action encourages foundation Trustees to increase the representation of Black leadership among foundations’ staff, vendors, consultants and grantees. It emerges from the Association of Black Foundation’s (ABFE) initiative, Leverage the Trust, which promotes the role of Black Trustees in making philanthropy more responsive to Black communities. In this regard, Black Trustees are positioned to influence:

  • Black professionals’ opportunities to lead in foundations in senior positions and the pipeline for Black talent for the institution;
  • Opportunities for Black professional services and vendors to do business with the philanthropic sector; and
  • Expanded foundation funding in Black communities in ways that are effective and responsible to the issues impacting our lives.

This Call to Action includes specific ways in which Trustees can encourage improvements in their foundations in these three areas. Regarding staffing opportunities, Trustees can request employment data, highlight the value of a diverse staff, include staff and leadership diversity in CEO evaluations, strengthen lines of communication between Trustees and staff and influence searches.

With respect to vendors and consultants, Trustees can request data on procurement practices, engage CEO’s about the benefits of hiring Black vendors, contact Black Chambers of Commerce, establish lines of communication between vendors and Trustees, leverage Board
committees to advocate for Black vendors and encourage hiring and building the capacity of Black vendors. And in grantmaking, Trustees can request routine data on grantmaking in Black communities, request routine data on investments in Black-led organizations, increase awareness of prospective Black grantees, encourage investment in capacity building, increase foundations’ outreach in Black communities and make use of ABFE’s Responsive Philanthropy in Black Communities Framework.

A sample template to help foundations measure demographic data is included in this document as well. The template can help foundations understand the demographics of their grantees, vendors, consultants and staff. Overall, this Call to Action can help foundations become more inclusive and guide Trustees and CEO in taking concrete steps to become more responsive to Black communities.