Foundation News & Commentary asked grantmakers: How does a foundation create diversity on its board?
"The first thing they have to determine is what skill sets they want. Then determine the ratio of diversity they want and seek candidates for the board that meet the skill sets and yet fill the diversity requirement. It needs to be a logical process that's ongoing so when board members retire, the whole board can look to replace the departing member with a person possessing similar skill sets."
"The foundation has to believe that diversity is a really important value for all operations within the foundation, to be reflected in its grantmaking, board operations and staffing. Once that commitment is made, the way to obtain diversity comes through a series of outreach activities. I think that the first step is a commitment to the value of diversity in the foundation as it touches every part of the foundation."
"I've found that the best way to find board members is to look at other nonprofit and foundation boards. Reviewing those lists and getting some intelligence on board terms is useful. Also, using current board members can usually yield some diversity. Each of my board members sits on other boards. They can recommend individuals they think would be an asset to our board."
"We are a very small family foundation and we don't worry about diversity on our board since it consists of direct family members. We do appreciate the value of diversity of input and work hard to have regular meetings with leaders of other family foundations in the area."
"By continuing to make board diversity a subject of high priority, by looking beyond the usual suspects for candidates, and by building your own 'farm club' system (i.e., diversifying your organization's committees and other affiliated groups in order to identify future board candidates.)"
"Diversity springs from a variety of facetsone dimension which is less often considered, yet vitally important, is the ability of the board to accept and value diverse opinions. How a board incorporates and celebrates diverse points of view tells a lot about the success of its undertakings. A value of spirited discussions without divisiveness is implicit in excellent boards."
"I would say, for starters, look outside of the foundation's current selection of board members. Look outside its front door or maybe even the back door. I would suggest they look at the gender makeup on that board, perhaps consider changing that a little bit. And to include more diversity in another category, invite some youth in. I would suggest high school or college students. Utilize their exciting ideas because the decisions the foundation makes will affect them."
"We have psychologists who recommend people, so it's very easy for us. We just make sure we have a diverse group within the categories of race, sexual orientation and gender."