More than words: 5 practical steps to build equity, diversity and inclusion into your grantmaking

by | Jul 13, 2021

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If you are working to bring about social change, you are no doubt familiar with the inequities and injustices found across the globe. It’s likely part of your mission to overcome these challenges and herald in change that will foster future equity, diversity and inclusion.

But this is easier said than done, and incorporating these building blocks of social justice into your program takes constant and consistent action and attention. 

Here, we take a look at the practical steps you can take to build equity, diversity and inclusion into your grantmaking and funding distribution to foster social justice and change through your grant or funding program.

Practical step #1: Create, write and share an EDI statement 

It all starts with the words—equity, diversity and inclusion. 

According to Peak Grantmaking, these buzzwords can be defined as such:

Equity is achieved when all people experience situational fairness – when one’s identity, race, background or social status is not a determining factor in the allocation of societal assets and advantages.

Diversity typically focuses on encompassing populations that have historically been marginalized in broader society.

And inclusion refers to the degree to which diverse individuals are able to use their voice, participate in the decision-making processes within a group, and the amount of power they have within that group.

So what do these terms mean for your organisation and community? And how can you define your mission in accordance with these principles? 

First of all, it’s important to make your EDI statement more than just a few half-hearted declarations hastily written and shared to appease the community or interested stakeholders. 

Your EDI statement should clearly and boldly state your organisation’s stance on matters of equality, and should answer the following questions: 

  • What is your organisation’s clear stance and opinion on these issues? 
  • How does your organisation actively engage to address issues of equity, diversity and inclusion?
  • How are your grant and funding initiatives and decisions guided by principles of equity, diversity and inclusion?
  • And how does your organisation work to continually improve and address issues of inequality? 

Let’s take a look at a couple well-written EDI statements.

From United Way, which works to advance the common good in communities across the world:
“We take the broadest possible view of diversity. We value the visible and invisible qualities that make you who you are. We welcome that every person brings a unique perspective and experience to advance our mission and progress our fight for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in every community. We believe that each United Way community member, donor, volunteer, advocate, and employee must have equal access to solving community problems. We strive to include diversity, equity, and inclusion practices at the center of our daily work. We commit to using these practices for our business and our communities.
Read their full statement.

From FIRST, a nonprofit working to advance STEM education:
Exploring, developing and implementing strategies to become more inclusive and ensure access to our programs to all students (as well as access to key supports) is critical for FIRST to reach its goal and mission. ALL young people should have the opportunity to become science and technology leaders. FIRST will remove barriers to program participation for underserved, underrepresented students. Pursuant to that end, FIRST Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion is a concerted, organized effort to develop strategies to make its programs more accessible and inclusive.
Read their full statement.

Practical step 2: Build a diverse grantmaking team and panel

As we move beyond the language and sharing of your EDI statement, it’s time to address your action plan. How can you make good on the promises you made in your equity, diversity and inclusion statement? 

A great first step is to build diverse representation on your grantmaking team, your review panel and your organisation’s partners and sponsors. Consider your community of grantseekers. Have you included representatives from the diverse groups you aim to help fund or support? Think about creating partnerships with organisations that can help guide your initiatives.

Or perhaps you want to make the funding decisions more inclusive to your broader community. Consider a participatory grantmaking approach that would invite more people to participate in the funding decisions and help create the social change they seek in their own communities. (We have some helpful tips on participatory grantmaking, too.) 

Practical step 3: Use grants management software to support EDI initiatives 

Grants management software, such as Good Grants, can do a lot of the heavy lifting for you when it comes to establishing best practices in creating an equitable grantseeker application experience and application review process.

For example, Good Grants offers the following features to help support equity, diversity and inclusion: 


You only need an internet connection to register and log in to the grants management system. And the entire system meets Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, a set of standards to make the web as accessible as possible. The latest revision, or WCAG 2.1, focuses on improvements to mobile accessibility and power with low vision or cognitive and learning disabilities. By using the built-in accessibility functions of Good Grants, you can put inclusivity at the forefront of your grants program.

An equitable grant application form

It’s important to provide an accessible and intuitive application form that is easy for grantseekers and conclusive for your review panel. For example, our 17 different question types, conditional logic to ask for additional information, and options to add help text throughout the application. Good Grants offers the flexibility to build your application form to your program’s exact needs easily.  

Field type options in Good Grants

Recusal and abstention tools

These helpful options allow reviewers to abstain or managers to recuse reviewers from scoring or deciding on any applications where there may be a potential conflict of interest. 

Scoring controls

With Good Grants, you have the power to weigh each piece of review criteria to create more equity in the assessment process. 

Scoring controls in Good Grants

Anonymous review

Subjectivity can also be compromised by including personal information about an applicant, such as name, gender, education or location. An easy way to combat this is to make applications anonymous. Show reviewers only the information they need to assess each application, reducing the risk of bias.

In Good Grants, you can easily anonymise applications by using the field visibility tool to hide personal information, even when they download applications or attachments.

Private review modes

While review panel collaboration has its benefits, it can also create peer influence. If you want to avoid this influence, you can easily provide private views in Good Grants of each application so each reviewer enjoys a clean view, free from other reviewers’ scores and comments.

Elevated data protection

If you are dealing with highly sensitive information from your applicants, you can take advantage of additional data protection options for any application fields containing personal data using “Elevated protection” or sensitive personal data by using “Maximum protection”. Learn more about these options.

Elevated data protection
Read more about how to create an equitable application and review process with Good Grants.  

Practical step 4: Ensure equitable distribution of funds through regular reporting

By following the steps laid out above and working every day to support your equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives, you will certainly experience a more equitable distribution of funds that align with your organisation’s mission.

But it’s also important to provide transparency for your community on funding. Where is the money and support going? What are the outcomes? Ensure the results are successful by requesting regular reports from your grantees to share the successes with your community. 

By regularly highlighting the work your grantees are doing with your support, you can illustrate the social impact of each grantee program project, and the transparency will build trust and support for your organisation. 

Practical step 5: Ask for feedback on EDI initiatives

Ensuring equality, diversity and inclusion is an ongoing directive that requires consistent review from within your organisation and your community. Consider regular feedback requests to see how you’re doing. Don’t be afraid to ask, “Where are we falling short?” “What can we do better to be more inclusive?” 

This type of feedback will only help to grow your organisation’s EDI mission, and will help foster a strong and trusting relationship between you and your community.

Small steps, big social impact

Taking these practical steps will help your grant or funding program put equity, diversity and inclusion at the forefront of your work and help to better serve underrepresented communities and people across the globe. 

Want to learn more? Check out these great resources and articles.

Want to see how your organisation can benefit from built-in features to support equity, diversity and inclusion? Sign up for a 14-day free trial of Good Grants today.

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