Diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives are increasingly prominent within Canadian philanthropy. However, existing research on DEI in the sector has followed a top-down approach, focusing on: 1) the policies and practices of foundations as articulated by their staff and directors; or 2) data collected by foundations about their grantees. As a result, we know very little about how philanthropic grantees working on equity issues experience the implementation of DEI principles at the foundation level.

Beginning February 2020, Philanthropic Foundations Canada will be partnering with PhiLab and La Fondation Chagnon on a research project that addresses this gap. The project, entitled, “Diversity, equity, and inclusion from the ground up: Exploring the experiences of equity-focused grantees within the Canadian philanthropic sector,” will be led by Dr. Adam Saifer and Dr. Jean-Marc Fontan.

Drawing on in-depth interviews with leaders from Canadian philanthropic grantee organizations-focused equity issues, this project will:

  • document both the challenges—as well as the successes—of these grantee organizations within a DEI-driven framework, with a specific emphasis on their experiences securing grants from foundations; collaborating with foundations; and demonstrating impact to foundations;
  • examine how grantees respond to, navigate, and/or push back against these barriers and challenges; and
  • explore how these grassroots insights can help foundations and sector practitioners better support equity-focused grantees through novel approaches to policymaking, programming, and advocacy.

The project will be completed over a 12-month period and will produce a series of reports, presentations, and articles that will be shared with the PFC membership.