Interest from Oregon nonprofits prompted NCRP to host an information-sharing webinar on August 4 about our latest Philamplify report, Oregon Community Foundation: Can It Build a Statewide Legacy of Equity and Inclusion?

View the presentation slides and watch a recording of the webinar.

To create a safe space for Oregon community leaders to share candid questions and comments about OCF, we did not invite the foundation to participate in the webinar. However, Kathleen Cornett, vice president for grants & programs, graciously responded in writing to several questions asked by webinar attendees:

1. How are voluntary community grant evaluators solicited, vetted and chosen? If someone is interested in becoming an evaluator, how does s/he let the foundation know?

OCF uses about 1600 volunteers in many capacities including scholarship committee volunteers, community field of interest advisors, leadership council members, special project coordinators and grant evaluators. Interested parties should contact OCF’s community engagement officer, Carly Brown at Cbrown[at]oregoncf.org, or give her a call at (503) 227-6846.

Grant evaluators are people with knowledge of and experience working in the nonprofit sector but are not currently employed by a nonprofit that might also be an applicant. OCF staff and volunteers regularly scan the community for likely evaluators, with an eye toward diversifying our volunteer ranks. When people become volunteer grant evaluators, they experience orientation and then regular training during grant cycles, plus biannual statewide training. The nature of the work requires that evaluators have availability during business hours during two intense periods of activity in spring and fall and plan to be involved for a long-term commitment.

A couple times a year we hold an informational meeting to explain the grant evaluator position to interested folks. Afterwards, if they are still interested, they fill out an application form outlining their interests and qualifications, including references. As openings occur, we bring people on and train them. Sometimes it’s a bit of time until we have openings. The position description is outlined on the OCF website.

2. How does a small culturally-specific organization get on OCF’s radar?

Generally, the Community Grant Program application process serves as the “front door” to OCF. It is not necessary, but prior to an application culturally specific organizations are welcome to contact OCF – either a regional staff person, a program officer or a Leadership Council member. If it is more comfortable, culturally specific organizations may contact Roberto Franco (Rfranco[at]oregoncf.org) or Mirna Loreli Cibrian (Mcibrian[at]oregoncf.org) through the Latino Partnership Program or someone associated with OCF they may know personally. We endeavor to be welcoming and forthright no matter which approach is made.

3. Is applying for a community grant the best way to become known/visible to DAFs? Is there some other way?

Yes, applying is the best method since Community Grant applications are shared with Advised Fund Donors based on donor interests. It is also possible to contact donor relations officers for informational meetings, but please understand their availability is quite limited. Donors themselves sometimes bring organizations to the foundation’s attention.

4. Who ultimately decides whether community organizing and advocacy receive funding: OCF staff or OCF board?

All grant decisions are made by the OCF board of directors who begin their deliberations based on a set of staff recommendations.

5. What are OCF’s next steps on the heels of this report?

On November 5, 2014 OCF adopted a policy statement on equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI). We have created a comprehensive EDI framework that guides our EDI focus and is grounded in four goal areas:

  • Diversity of People and Perspectives: Strengthen the diversity of the OCF family and foster an inclusive culture.
  • Cultural Agility: Educate and train the OCF family and enhance communication to increase awareness.
  • Effective Community Engagement: Engage with diverse communities, convene leaders and partners, strengthen regional strategies and commit to supplier diversity.
  • Impact on Equity and Disparities: Increase funding to diverse constituents, diversify the donor base, improve date collection and leverage our research capacity.

Each goal is supported by strategies and tactics that are assigned to key individuals and groups in order for us to achieve tangible and measurable progress. The rigor of this approach, which includes quarterly reporting to staff and board, holds us accountable. We invite various stakeholders to give us input and join us in this journey which counters or balances any internal biases.

Although social justice is not the focus of OCF’s work, it is something the foundation funds. We plan to make this work more visible to those outside the organization. And we continue to deepen our knowledge of historically marginalized populations, with ongoing consideration of what this means for us in terms of best practices in grant making.

6. Who should people contact if they have concerns or advice related to EDI – would it be Sheila Murty?

As OCF VP for Operations, Sheila leads OCF’s equity work and is a good point of contact. She can connect people with the right folks within OCF. Her email is Smurty[at]oregoncf.org.

Thanks to OCF for answering questions from our webinar attendees. If you’re interested in continuing the conversation with peer Oregon nonprofits, sharing your story or learning more about the report, email Ben Barge at bbarge[at]ncrp.org and join the #Philamplify conversation on Twitter and philamplify.org.

Lisa Ranghelli is senior director of assessment and special projects at the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP), where she leads Philamplify, an initiative that combines expert assessment and critical stakeholder feedback to improve grantmaking practices and boost equitable outcomes in communities. Follow @lisa_rang and @ncrp on Twitter.

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