Diversity, equity, and inclusion [or DEI] initiatives have become increasingly prominent within Canadian philanthropy over the past five years. Moreover, the growth of these initiatives has
accelerated in the COVID-19 context, as well as in response to recent calls from civil society for social and racial justice in Canada.
Many philanthropic foundations have opted to direct their attention to principles of DEI within the sector, and how the implementation of DEI principles in the sector can contribute to a fairer and more equitable Canada. However, research in this area has focused on the policies and practices of philanthropic foundations as articulated by staff and directors, and/or data collected by foundations about their grantees. As a result, little is known about how equity-focused grantees experience the implementation of DEI principles at the foundation level.
In March 2020, Dr. Adam Saifer launched a research project that sought to address this knowledge gap, drawing on in-depth interviews with leaders of equity-focused grantees in Toronto
and Montreal. The project was supervised by Dr. Jean-Marc Fontan (PhiLab-UQAM) and was conducted in partnership with Philanthropic Foundations Canada (PFC) and the Fondation Lucie et André Chagnon (FLAC). Funding for this research was provided by Mitacs, the two philanthropic partners (PFC and FLAC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (via PhiLab).
The current short report focuses on one aspect of this research: the experiences of equity-focused grantees during the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic. By focusing on this challenging
snapshot in time, this report seeks to help foundations advance in their DEI journey, even in moments of crisis.
This report draws on the five guiding principles that were developed by Philanthropic Foundations Canada, Community Foundations Canada, Environment Funders Canada, and the Circle on
Philanthropy and Aboriginal People in Canada to assist foundations in supporting their grantees during the pandemic. Specifically, the report provides a set of recommendations— guided by a
robust DEI lens and the perspectives of equity-focused grantees—that correspond to each of the five guiding principles. This report provides foundations with insights to better support the work of
equity-focused grantees via novel approaches to policymaking, programming, and advocacy.
Also on Academia
Research paper by Adam Saifer.