What We Heard (and What Are We Going to do Now?)

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On March 9th, Orange County Grantmakers welcomed over 150 nonprofit, philanthropic and community leaders to our Strategic Plan Open House at the Delhi Center (or virtually). It was our goal to not only share our new equity centered strategy with the greater Orange County audience, but to most importantly, solicit feedback on how to implement our goals. The community did not disappoint!

After taking the last couple of weeks to review and process the responses we are thrilled to share back with the community some of the overarching themes and suggestions we heard, as well as our plans in response.

Equity Goal #1: OCG will create power sharing spaces with the nonprofit community.

What We Heard:

  • Most commonly suggested topics for discussion included health equity, affordable housing and general issues of access.
  • There is no shortage of experts (many of whom we know and already love) but OCG and funders in general must keep in mind is how we use those experts time.

What We are Doing:

  • We are supporting two issue tables aligned with our existing affiliate groups the Health Funders Partnership and the OC Opportunity Initiative. One is looking at health, specifically the challenges of infrastructure and collaboration and how philanthropy can support this type of work. The second will continue to look at immigration and the challenges individuals face around access, specifically developing relationships in order to be heard.

Equity Goal #2: OCG will ensure & support alignment of affiliate groups with our equity commitments.

What We Heard:

  • There must be shared language around expectations (what do funders really MEAN when they say “equity,” and the importance of “Trust Based Philanthropy.”
  • Funding decisions need to be community centered, be multi-year, and include the nonprofits being served in long-term planning.

What We Are Doing:

  • OCG will host a Trust Based Philanthropy learning series for the funder community, diving deep into “putting it into practice.”
  • Our affiliate groups are working toward establishing clear equity guidelines with a common understanding of what these mean in terms of expectations around programming and granting.

Equity Goal #3: OCG will connect funders to organizations and groups doing equity work as well as promote strategic investment and collaboration.

What We Heard:

  • The depth of knowledge around equity, specifically for underserved communities, is deep. While we already knew this, your feedback simply clarified it. Anyone who claims Orange County is not thinking about this work already has simply not connected with the right people!

What We Are Doing:

  • Working with both familiar and new partners OCG will continue to support and expand our support for organizations pushing equity forward in OC.

Equity Goal #4: OCG will target outreach for capacity building and training to underserved geographies and demographics, as well as organizations working to address root causes of inequity, supporting BIPOC leaders and communities.

What We Heard:

  • While there are many nonprofits already working in this space and many funders funding it, it is not always clear to the general population who is doing what.

What We Are Doing:

  • In partnership with OC Nonprofit Central, OCG and OCCF will create a new data field on the platform asking for information regarding a nonprofit leadership’s race, gender and specific population searched. Organizations will also be able to identify if they are BIPOC led and/or serving.
  • In partnership, OCG will create a funder/nonprofit matrix to allow for funders to share the areas they fund and nonprofits to easily search for funders who invest in specific areas. 

Equity Goal #5: OCG will integrate a focus on equity, justice and systemic racism into all our learning events and activities.

What We Heard:

  • If we are going to develop new learning and training programs, they must include community members in the planning and development and partner with agencies doing the work on the ground. And in a common theme we heard from other areas, the top areas to focus on are health equity and affordable housing.

What We Are Doing:

  • OCG will begin developing a training program that starts with a learning around historical impacts of inequity.
  • Our summit committee this year is predominantly nonprofit led, allowing the content to be truly responsive to the needs of the community.
  • In partnership with the Ready to Grow initiative, we will provide space for funder/nonprofit dialogue around capacity building and financial support.

Equity Goal #6: OCG will promote best practices for funding equity work.

What We Heard:

  • The community LOVED the idea of a universal grant application. But that alone is not enough. Applications need to be accessible to all sizes of nonprofit and funders should be public about what areas they fund and why.

What We Are Doing:

  • Over the course of our strategic plan we will explore the idea of a universal grant application. But even before that, we will use our member workshops and meetings as a place to have these tough conversations with funders, leveraging both internal and external wisdom to develop strong “best practices equity standards” within our community.

Equity Goal #7: OCG will establish a dedicated process of engagement with Native Nations.

What We Heard:

  • As we begin this new area of programming and outreach, we must connect with leaders on the ground.

What We Are Doing:

  • Over the next couple of months OCG will reach out to the many experts suggested during the open house and develop a series of learning opportunities for our community.

Equity Goal #8: OCG will develop a sustainable leadership pipeline for BIPOC foundation leaders.

What We Heard:

  • In creating this pipeline, OCG must keep in mind factors such as access (providing for stipends to offset time), cultural awareness, the role of churches and faith based groups and alternative pipeline sources.

What We Are Doing:

  • OCG is meeting with BIPOC foundation leaders, mapping out with our partners what must be included in a leadership pipeline.
  • We will use our existing issue tables and programs to network and recruit BIPOC practitioners as funders.

What you read above is only a snapshot of the amazing feedback we received from the community. Again, we thank every single person who contributed their thoughts and feedback via actual or virtual sticky note. And we invite you to come along with us on our journey. We will continue to update our website as we develop programming and goals and remain, as always, open to your suggestions. Please do not hesitate to contact our Executive Director at Taryn.Palumbo@ocgrantmakers.org.

In collaboration and enthusiasm,

Taryn Palumbo                                                                                                  Cathleen Otero

Executive Director                                                                                           Board Chair

Orange County Grantmakers                                                                       Orange County Grantmakers

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