Grantee Demographics Survey


Last year, we began collecting information about the demographic makeup of our grantees, an important step in progressing our organization-wide commitment to address structural racism and advance racial equity.

As a foundation, our grantmaking is one of the most significant means by which we can impact racial equity, both in who and in what we fund. This includes our investing in racial equity-focused grants and initiatives, as well as grants specifically supporting leaders of color and people of color-led organizations.

This led us to ask a few questions. How much do we really know about the organizations we support? What are the demographics of the staff, of their boards, and of the populations they serve? How are they working to address racial equity? To find out, in February 2021 we initiated a Survey of Recipients of Foundation Funding. This was done in partnership with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina’s Community and Diversity Engagement team as they embarked on a similar exploration.

Specifically, our goals were to develop metrics to better understand grantee and partner demographics at the board, head(s) of organization, leadership, and staff levels, as well as gather baseline data to better understand their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) work. The survey was intended to help us examine our practices and to better understand the following questions:

  • Does our funding help to advance equity and/or decrease disparities?
  • What and whom are we missing through our grantmaking?
  • Do we fund diverse and inclusive organizations?
  • How can we best support our grantees, partners, and community in their DEI work?

Development, Design, and Deployment

To develop our approach to data collection and design a survey in pursuit of equity, we engaged in the following activities:

  • Reviewed existing publications, resources, best practices, and efforts already taking place in the field.
  • Sought input from other funders and participated in PEAK Grantmaking 2020 Demographic Data Community of Practice, allowing access to expert presentations, peer-to-peer sharing, and group discussions.
  • Solicited feedback from The Equity Paradigm, a diversity, equity, and inclusion consultancy to review our approach from an equity lens.
  • Engaged six Foundation grantees in review and feedback of survey design and communications approach. Grantees were compensated for their time.

The survey was hosted in Survey Monkey and was translated into Spanish to support Spanish-speaking grantees and partners that prefer bilingual communications.

The survey was initiated via direct email outreach to 74 active Blue Cross NC Foundation grantees, and Program Officers completed customized follow ups with each organization. The survey had a response rate of 68 percent, and respondents represented grants ranging from $15,000 to $3.4 million.

A copy of the survey instrument is available for review.

Key Findings

So, what did we learn?  Of the many insights resulting from this initiative, a few top-line takeaways include:

  • 61.3% of grantees were white-led, 27.4% were Black-led, 11.3% were Hispanic or Latino-led.
  • The total grant amount going to organizations that were led by people of color ranged from less than $100,000 to $999,999. The total grant amount going to organizations that were white-led ranged from less than $100,000 to more than $2 million.
  • 50% of grantees had boards that were a majority people of color
  • Of all board members serving our grantee portfolio, 53.1% were white, 25.4% were Black, 15% were Hispanic or Latino.
  • 60% of grantees reported that they actively collect demographic data from board, leadership, and staff.
  • Of the grantees who reported that they allocate grant funding to other organizations in the form of regranting or sub-granting, 19% reported that they collect demographic data on their board, leadership, and staff of their grantees.
  • 85% of grantees have engaged in formal DEI work.

Please see the corresponding data book for a comprehensive report of the findings.

What's Next

These findings are intended to spark dialogue, reflection, and serve as a key source of information to inform the Foundation's future work. This survey is an important component of a multi-dimensional approach to assess where we have been with our funding, where we are making progress, and where we can grow and improve.

To further support continued evaluation and tracking, we have implemented the practice of collecting demographic data of all applicants, grantees, and sponsorship recipients.