Track Session 3.2 Equity, diversity and inclusivity in grant-making
Track Session 3.2
Equity, diversity and inclusivity in grant-making
- CHENG Gang Dean, Yingxian School of Philanthropy, Zhejiang Gongshang University
- Andrew Pau HOANG Programme Director of the Bachelor of Arts & Sciences, The University of Hong Kong
- Una OSILI Associate Dean for Research and International Programs, Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy
- GU Qing Senior Program Officer, China, Ford Foundation
Mrs Gu Qing, Senior Programme Officer, China of Ford Foundation, moderated a discussion on ways to make grant-making even more effective by incorporating voices from the community in the decision-making process. Dr Una Osili, Associate Dean for Research and International Programmes of Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, and Dr Andrew Pau Hoang, Programme Director of the Bachelor of Arts and Sciences of The University of Hong Kong, agreed that this participation and representation is not just about who has a seat at the table, but also about how much their opinions are being heard and recognised.
Reflecting on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity (EDI), Dr Osili added that this terminology refers to three distinct but interrelated concepts which vary across contexts, histories, politics, and socio-cultural environments. Dr Hoang built on this to share that understanding the localisation of these concepts is key; what is described as racialised in the United States might be considered ethnic in Hong Kong. He also raised the point on existing power imbalances between funders and communities, using examples from the “students as panellists” initiative where such imbalances were seen to exist between teachers and students working together as peers on their projects.
On improving the prevalence of participatory grant-making amongst funders, Prof Cheng Gang, Dean of Yingxian School of Philanthropy at Zhejiang Gongshang University, shared that it is as much about citizens/recipients having the mindset to participate as it is about philanthropies expanding their own capabilities of social development to improve EDI. From his experience in mainland China, he felt that not every institution is willing to implement this, and awareness remains low.
Dr Osili on the other hand believed that in other parts of the world, especially in the post-pandemic world, there is already interest in pursuing this, but institutions lack the know-how on implementing it. Barriers can be both institutional needs including how to retrain staff with this changed mindset and changing norms including how do we reshape the perception of these communities in decision-making.
Responding to questions around impact measurement and overcoming resource constraints, the panel concluded that while it is indeed complex to track success around EDI, engaging communities even to define this (e.g., how much compensation would a mother need if she is devoting her time to a project) and being willing to adapt those measures based on data. The panellists concluded on the note that there is real merit in “learning by doing” instead of waiting to establish the perfect approach.