Searching for Inclusion in Philanthropy


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A Guide to Equitable Practices in Foundation Hiring

Study after study confirms a stark reality: The field of philanthropy remains predominantly white. Research notes that over 75% of U.S. foundation staff are white. More specifically, 92% of foundation CEOs, 84% of executive staff, and 87% of foundation boards are white. While communities push philanthropic institutions to be more diverse, equitable, and inclusive in all aspects of their operations—including hiring practices, board recruitment, and giving—philanthropy has largely resisted, and measures of meaningful change have been elusive. Consequently, Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities continue to be minimized in foundation giving portfolios and invisible within the hiring and board compositions of U.S. foundations.

The reality is that there is no lack of available talent or qualified Native candidates. There is only a gap in the way qualified candidates are recruited and presented throughout the process. This study examines hiring practices of U.S. foundations as they relate to the hiring of Native Americans and offers tips to improve the hiring process so that we can see more talented and qualified Native people working in philanthropy. 

This report was developed in collaboration with Frontline Solutions and Melvin Consulting PLLC.

The cover image, “Remember our Grandfathers,” was provided by Ojibwa artist Gordon Coons. “Remember the Grandfathers” is made with 100% duct tape and portrays a Lac Courte Oreilles elder in a pop-art style as a new way to look at our past. For more information on Gordon Coons and his artwork, please visit

Further insights from the report are also featured in this article by NonProfit Quarterly.


More information on Philanthropy in Indian Country, including research reports, community perspectives, and funder perspectives, are featured here.