In 2018, the National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers launched an initiative to sharpen the impact of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) work in grantmaking by increasing the capacity of consultants and grantmakers engaged in these efforts. Network researchers used a systematic protocol to interview consultant members about their most effective partnerships with grantmakers. Case studies drawn from those interviews yielded valuable lessons for advancing DEI in philanthropy.
In sharing some of these lessons, this article advises consultants to be prepared to help grantmakers define or refine the meaning of DEI and understand where equity fits into their values and mission. It also explores how a good DEI consulting process helps to distinguish technical and complex dimensions of a DEI commitment, and how the scope of work should encompass both development of internal leadership skills and investment in grantee, community, and issue leaders.
This article concludes with tips on how smart DEI consultant/grantmaker partnerships can understand and honor emergent strategy and help the funder follow opportunities without overwhelming the size and scale of the funder's capacity.