Foundation Leaders Divided on Diversity Disclosure Legislation,
New York, NY — October 14, 2010. Since 2008, two attempts have been made to pass state-wide legislation regarding the public disclosure of private foundation practices related to diversity; one succeeded and one failed. In California, a proposition requiring foundations to report on the diversity of their staffs, board, and grantmaking practices failed to become law in 2008. This year in Florida, a law was passed that prohibits the state from collecting such information.
The Foundation Center has documented the opinions of foundation executives about these legislative efforts. Based on survey responses from 73 members of the Center's Grantmaker Leadership Panel, the Center has issued the report Foundation Leaders Divided on Legislation: Supportive of Field-Building Efforts, which finds that, on balance, these individuals tend to have unfavorable opinions of both initiatives. A majority (51 percent) had an unfavorable opinion of the California legislation and 42 percent felt similarly about the Florida law. And because the initiatives sought opposite goals, those who supported one of the laws tended to disapprove of the other.
"The Foundation Center does not take stands on policy matters regarding the operation of foundations. But as a knowledge resource for the field, we believe that more information is better than less, and that greater transparency is the best defense of philanthropic freedom," says Foundation Center President Bradford Smith.
The report also gauges the surveyed leaders' opinions on three recent or current field-building initiatives — Project Streamline, Glasspockets, and the Diversity in Philanthropy Project — and two published reports on philanthropic practice — Criteria for Philanthropy at Its Best, published by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP), and Disrupting Philanthropy, by Lucy Bernholz, Ed Skloot, and Barry Varela. With the exception of the NCRP report, which drew mixed reactions, opinions of each of these initiatives were uniformly favorable or neutral.
Documenting foundations' opinions on policy efforts and other initiatives supports the Center's overall efforts to bring transparency to the world of philanthropy. At glasspockets.org, a web site launched earlier in the year by the Foundation Center, foundations that have taken the lead in communicating about their work are featured along with direct links to their initiatives, including their diversity practices, if available.
Foundation Leaders Divided on Legislation (PDF) can be downloaded at no charge from the Gain Knowledge area of the Foundation Center's web site.
About the Foundation Center
Established in 1956 and today supported by close to 550 foundations, the Foundation Center is the leading source of information about philanthropy worldwide. Through data, analysis, and training, it connects people who want to change the world to the resources they need to succeed. The Center maintains the most comprehensive database on U.S. and, increasingly, global grantmakers and their grants — a robust, accessible knowledge bank for the sector. It also operates research, education, and training programs designed to advance knowledge of philanthropy at every level. Thousands of people visit the Center's web site each day and are served in its five regional library/learning centers and its network of 450 funding information centers located in public libraries, community foundations, and educational institutions nationwide and beyond. For more information, please visit foundationcenter.org or call (212) 620-4230.
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