Doing DEI Work as a Family Foundation

An interview with Michele Goodman, Executive Director, JW & HM Goodman Family Foundation

[GRANTMAKERS] Tell us a bit about why you’re interested in incorporating a DEI lens in your grantmaking.

[Michele] I just spent the week thinking about diversity, equity, and inclusion. My week started by binge-watching the Netflix series “Good Girls Revolt,” a pseudo-fictional series about women working for Newsweek in the early 70s and their efforts to get the credit that they deserve as journalists. On International Women’s Day, I saw the film Hidden Figures and realized how much I have in common with the characters from my previous career working as a software engineer in a male-dominated environment during the 80s and early 90s. And finally, I attended the National Center for Family Philanthropy’s webinar on diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

We hosted a viewing and discussion of the webinar at our office. What were key takeaways for you? 

The webinar gave me many ideas as to how small family foundations can start to weave best practices into their work. I was pleasantly surprised to see that our foundation is already implementing some of their recommended best practices and it was simple for me to quickly implement a few new best practices, too. The Equity in Philanthropy website has a simple checklist that you can use to incorporate an equity lens appropriate for your philanthropy’s work.

Can you give us an example of a best practice that you were able to implement right away?

The webinar pointed out methods for making the grant application process more equitable. I have always struggled with grant application reviews because nonprofits come in all sizes so it isn’t fair to evaluate them using the same metrics. This will be one piece of our foundation’s new equity lens. Potential grantees spend a lot of valuable time applying to individual foundations so it is important to keep your grant application short and simple. One way to better understand how much time a nonprofit spends on a grant application is to simply ask them to estimate the number of hours and provide that number to us. I was able to quickly incorporate this in our online grant application submission process. And I especially love the idea of setting aside a small amount of our grant award budget to make stipends to small nonprofits for whom we were unable to award a grant; this helps compensate for the resources they used to submit a grant application. 

The Goodman Family Foundation invests in nonprofits that improve the quality of life in the San Francisco Bay and Portland, Oregon areas, primarily supporting: Arts & Culture, Education, Environment, and Health & Human Services.

   This story reflects GRANTMAKERS’ commitments to embed equity in philanthropy in our region and to eliminate barriers to nonprofit impact.