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Equitable Philanthropy Promising Practices

Philanthropy, for the purposes of this playbook, includes the investment of charitable funds into the community through grantmaking initiatives, impact investing or other capital investment strategies of philanthropic institutions (public, private and/or corporate funders) in support of the community’s charitable needs and/or opportunities.

1. Readiness: Center Racial Equity in the Organizational Culture of the Philanthropic Institution

  • Plan and implement a learning agenda for staff and Board/committee members that includes data-driven information on racial disparities in the community you serve.

  • Include the One Economy: State of Black Polk County Report, the Nuestro Iowa Report from the Latinx Project and information from Undesigning the Redline as beginning points of reference for communities in central Iowa.

  • Include a specific focus on the realities of power and race, the value of the 4Equity Tool as well as understanding, accepting and adopting shared language around racial equity.

  • Understand the difference between the following terms: equality, diversity, equity, acceptance, inclusion and belonging. 


  • Develop and adopt an internal statement of commitment to racial equity focused on increasing equitable practices within the organization, as well as an external statement of commitment to advancing racial equity practices in the community.

  • Include recognition of previous circumstances (i.e., missteps), gaps in knowledge and/or action, information that is still needed and challenges of the organization to address in the implementation journey.

  • Activate plans, using the 4Equity Tool, which may include internal staff assessments, hiring procedures, committee/board composition matrix, etc.


  • Create and implement measurable action plans, informed through using the 4Equity Tool, that support both the internal and external statements supporting racial equity.

  • Differentiate between working on racial equity (i.e., granting to entities that provide programming on racial equity) and trying to achieve racial equity (i.e., adopting internal staffing policies, instituting an impact investing strategy in support of communities of color).

  • Consider opportunities to invest and engage in advocacy efforts to elevate racial equity. (Opportunities exist for this work regardless of a philanthropic institution’s status).

  • Establish authority and resources to implement the developed action plans.


Discovering: Starting journey and creating equity pathways


Exploring: Perfecting the elements and moving the equity needle


Leading: Meeting metrics and scaling equity best practices

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