Blog: Amplify

A Moment for Self Reflection

This week the Council released its 2014 Grantmakers Salary and Benefits Report. The most comprehensive source on national foundation staff composition and compensation, the report provides us with an opportunity for self-reflection about our individual management practices. It also serves as a stark reminder of the demographic changes the country and field are experiencing.

Philanthropy is a catalyst for positive change and a beacon of hope for millions. We contribute to society in countless ways and address a multitude of challenges facing our society and planet.  

When we do this well, we do so with an appreciation for the rich diversity that makes for healthy communities.

I encourage you to access a copy of the report on the Council’s website. Please reflect on the findings and discuss the implications with your colleagues, especially in light of the major demographic changes occurring in the communities your foundation serves. I highlight a few findings below as a fresh contribution to the conversation about the importance of inclusivity in our sector.  

Invest in Our Future Leaders 

In 2014, 17% of foundation leaders -- CEOs and Chief Giving Officers -- and 6% of full-time staff in respondent organizations were aged 65 or older, so clearly a significant leadership shift is upon us. With over a third of full-time staff aged 50 to 64, we can waste no time in preparing younger generations to take the mantle. We must create pathways for younger leaders to access the wealth of knowledge of senior leaders, assisting them to build strong relationships across the philanthropic field. 

Address Gender Imbalances

When we looked at the survey data, some findings jumped off the page. At the staff level, there seems to be a significant gender imbalance -- 75% of grantmaker staff are women, and if we break this down further, nearly 90% of administrative staff are women. At the CEO level, philanthropy scores well against other sectors in terms of gender equality because over half of our CEOs are female. However, at the largest foundations (those with financial assets of more than $1 billion), just 28% of CEOs are women, suggesting that we can do better. 

Reflect the Communities We Serve

Last year, racial and ethnic minorities comprised nearly 25% of surveyed organizations’ reported staff, a reflection of years of hard work in addressing past inequities. However, these gains are not reflected at the executive level. Only 8% of CEOs were identified as racial and ethnic minorities. The data reminds us that collectively we have more work to do. 

Advance Our Understanding

The Council has been working with a growing number of funders focused on building a more inclusive workforce for people with disabilities. In 2015, a year which marks the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), we will be gathering more detailed information about people with disabilities working in philanthropy through a variety of new efforts. Additionally, we will include more questions on this important demographic group in next year’s Grantmakers Salary and Benefits research. Taken together, this information will allow us to see, at a more detailed level, how people with disabilities are working in the field.

The Grantmakers Salary and Benefits survey does solicit limited data about LGBT people in philanthropy, but our research team isn’t confident that the findings fully reflect the true numbers because of significant under-reporting. I am enormously proud of the accomplishments of the LGBT community both within philanthropy and socially. Moving forward we will continue to explore ways to more accurately track the level of representation of LGBT people in the field. I am also deeply committed to working with colleagues to ensure that this diverse group feels at home in philanthropy.

The Council's Leadership Development Role

Our field must continue to invest in building a talent pipeline that reflects the rich diversity of the human community, understanding that the people and the places we serve will benefit greatly by our commitment.

The Council is particularly proud of its successful Career Pathways leadership pipeline program that generated an excellent cohort of new leaders, including La June Montgomery Tabron at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Sara Boyd at the Omaha Community Foundation, and Ken Jones at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Of the 37 Career Pathways graduates, many received promotions and attribute that success to the program: 22% were promoted to CEO positions, 16% to C-Suite/VP level positions and 13% to board or program leadership positions within their home institution or another foundation. We are exploring ways to scale the program and bring it back online now that the three-year pilot evaluation has been completed.


The constitution of our own organizations influences the decisions we make on a daily basis, from staff and board member selections to grantmaking and program priorities. We hope this research equips you with useful comparative data, helping you examine your foundation's practices in light of those of your peers. And just as importantly, we hope the report serves as a call to action for all of us.

We must inform ourselves, do our part to develop our field, and begin conversations about how best to build organizations that reflect humanity in all its rich diversity.
Initiatives and organizations such as the D-5 coalition and identity-based funder networks have thoughtfully worked for years to ensure that philanthropy considers these issues on an ongoing basis.

I encourage all of us, the Council included, to join them in examining the diversity and inclusivity of our individual organizations, learning from one another and holding each other accountable.  

Get the Report >>

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