Diversity, equity and inclusion from the ground up

Research Projects


Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives are becoming more and more common in the Canadian philanthropic sector. However, existing studies on DEI in the sector have followed a top-down approach by focusing on: 1) Foundation policies and practices as defined by their employees or administrators, or on 2) data collected by foundations regarding their donees. We thus have limited information on the perspectives of donees working on questions of equity regarding the integration of DEI principles by foundations.

As of February 2020, Philanthropic Foundations Canada will be working with PhiLab and the Fondation Chagnon on a research project that aims to fill the knowledge gap. This project, called “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion from the ground up: The experience of donees working towards Equity in the Canadian Philanthropic Sector” will be led by Adam Saifer, Ph.D. in Cultural Studies and Jean-Marc Fontan, Pd.D. in Sociology.

Through in-depth interviews with leaders of Canadian equity-focused organizations who receive philanthropic funds, this project:

  • Will document the difficulties faced by donees, as well as their successes, in implementing a DEI centred framework, by emphasizing their experience with receiving foundation grants, collaborating with foundations and demonstrating results to foundations;
  • Will look into methods adopted by grantees to face, overcome or fight against these obstacles and difficulties;
  • Examine how this first-hand information can help foundations and professionals of the sector to better support equity-focused grantees through novel approaches to elaborate policies, programs and advocacy work.

This project will take place over a twelve-month period and will generate a series of reports, presentations and articles that will all be communicated to PFC members.

Affiliated Hub(s)National Research

Research AxisPhilanthropy and Social Justice

Project supervisor: Jean-Marc Fontan

Partner(s): Philanthropic Foundations Canada

Team member(s): Adam Saifer

Student researcher(s):

Beginning date of the project: 

End date or projected end date of the project: 


Philanthropy During COVID-19: The Urgency of a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Lens