Revisiting diversity in European philanthropy 

Karen Weisblatt

Nearly a decade ago, a group of European foundations, loosely organized in a European Foundation Centre (EFC) interest group, set out to develop a collective plan to promote diversity and inclusiveness in the philanthropic sector. The premise was that people from ethnic minorities were under-represented, and that foundations would be significantly more effective if their compositions better reflected the broader populations they served. Their efforts resulted in the publication, Championing diversity: opportunities for the European foundation sector, which explored three key areas: foundations as funders, as employers, and as community leaders contributing to the public good.

Raising awareness about diversity is a long-term process, but the lack of change in the European philanthropic sector is palpable and disheartening.

At the EFC’s 2015 conference, a session devoted to the issue attracted fewer than a dozen people. Although the conversation was animated, the sense that ‘nothing has changed'[1] dominated and persists to this day.

Ali Khan, thematic networks manager at the EFC, commented in a recent interview: ‘There is a growing group of people calling for change, who are noticing that not much has shifted. People seem to hope that this will just change by itself. They are not moving to put change into practice.’

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