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Fundraising, Resource Allocation + Grantmaking

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Prioritize advancing equity in how you weight your grantmaking, resource allocation, and partnerships decisions. One significant way to demonstrate the importance your United Way places on equity is to include this as a criterion and give it a weighted value in all of your major monetary and strategic decisions. This includes how you structure your grantmaking process (and decision-making), deciding what partners you will engage with (funded and unfunded), and how you make decisions about allocating resources internally to advance equity.

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Balance grantmaking to ensure a mix of investments that focus on long-term, systemic and equitable change and programs that provide direct services and supports to individuals and/or address basic needs. Grants that focus on efforts to change community conditions, when combined with addressing specific disparities, can help to deliver equitable change at a broader scale and complement investments in direct services and supports. For example, funding a coalition that is working to increase access to affordable housing for low-income community residents is a great way to augment investments in temporary shelters that can only provide short-term relief.

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Collect demographic data on donors. Identify gaps and develop outreach strategies for engaging new donors, including leveraging existing United Way affinity groups (e.g. LGBTQ, African American, Young Leaders), and those that are community-based or have local chapters (e.g. 100 Black Men, Society of Hispanic Engineers, National Society of Black Engineers).

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Promote grantee diversity and equity by prioritizing organizations that are led by people of color and/or are explicitly focusing on advancing equity with communities of color. Incorporate questions into application processes for grantees to describe how their work leads to equitable outcomes for communities.

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Promote and invest in strengthening the internal equity capacity of grantees. Set aside budget dollars earmarked for grantees to provide comprehensive equity training for organization board, leadership, staff, and volunteers. Provide general operating funds to organizations.

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Track vendor demographics and adopt policies that promote vendor diversity. In conjunction with investments in hiring and retaining diverse staff, ensuring your vendors are representative of the communities you are serving is a great way to demonstrate a commitment to equity and inclusion.

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Remove funding barriers for smaller organizations, especially those led by people of color, women, and other historically disadvantaged groups. Assess application requirements and potentially simplify specific barriers, such as unnecessarily high financial reporting requirements.

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Example: Applications that require audit level detail vs. more simplified measures of financial sustainability may place an unnecessary burden on smaller or systematically under- resourced organizations. Promote collective impact projects that leverage resources and partnerships among numerous organizations. Provide substantive feedback to applicants who do not receive funding so that they can improve their chances next time.

Consider creating a specific pool of resources and/or training for unsuccessful applicants to build their capacity to successfully compete for funding in subsequent rounds of grantmaking.

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Engage diverse community members and local organizations to inform the grantmaking process. Provide them with training that helps to deepen their understanding of equity to build their capacity to bring that lens to the grants review process. Work with them to establish community priorities to consider in the selection of grantees.

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Focus on sustained, incremental change. Support grassroots organizations that focus on policy change. Meaningfully shape investments and policy decisions in your local community and support the development of formal pipelines to decision-making such as civic engagement. Provide sustainable funding that considers the complexity and timeline of systems change.

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Related Critical Success Factors (Modern United Way)
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  • Lead with a Growth Mindset
  • Best in Class Fundraising → Content → Digital Experiences → Volunteer Opportunities
  • Develop Compelling Products and Solutions