To Stand Against Hate, Get Your Board Involved

Thursday, September 7, 2023 - 4:54 pm
Nidale Zouhir

It’s a call no one in philanthropy wants to receive: An organization you funded for its soup kitchen is also running an anti-LGBTQ “conversion therapy” program. Your climate-justice grant may have gone to a group that promotes bombings and arson to disrupt state and federal environmental agencies. How did this happen? And what can you do to prevent it next time?

Unfortunately, these grants sometimes slip through the cracks because foundations don’t realize they are funding hate: Many organizations that some consider to be hate groups have 501(c)(3) status, and occasionally, foundations are surprised to learn that charitable groups they’ve long supported are taking on programs that don’t align with their values. Having a values-aligned philanthropy policy in place will help weed out those groups from your grantmaking – and provide a roadmap for action if an accusation arises.  

This week, the Council has added a new resource to its values-aligned philanthropy toolkit specifically to guide you through a critical early step in that process: Discussing the issue with board members, who have ultimate authority over a foundation’s grantmaking. 

Our guide covers how to set the stage with background information, gives helpful tips and FAQs for the meeting itself, and includes hypothetical scenarios to help bring the issue to life.

The Delaware Community Foundation board approved its anti-hate policy in September 2022, spurred in part by a local museum’s controversial confederate flag, said Mike DiPaolo, the foundation’s vice president for southern Delaware. “It really catalyzed us to move on this,” he said. ”It was happening right down the street.”

Laurel Lee-Alexander, Vice President of Community Impact at the Community Foundation for Monterey County, said even before its policy was approved in December 2022, talking with the board and engaging with peers prepared the staff when a donor advisor requested a grant to a group with concerning web content. And being able to plan and prepare how to present the foundation’s goals to clarify its grantmaking policies helped staff talk with the donor advisor. “The donor advisor immediately said, ‘No, I don’t want to make this grant,’” Lee-Alexander said. “Our lesson: just communicate!” 

We hope our new guide will help you do just that. And don’t forget to check out the rest of our free tools:

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