Businesses globally are being urged to do better to address racial and human justice inequalities. This includes the philanthropic sector, which plays an important role in supporting work to address social and systemic issues. There is now an opportunity for the Australian philanthropic sector to take the lead in addressing issues of race, equity, diversity and inclusion. Embedding cultural diversity and representation within a grant-making organisation (through people and in policies) is the first step towards change.

The Macquarie Group Foundation, Perpetual and Philanthropy Australia have partnered with the Jumbunna Institute and Centre for Social Impact UNSW, to explore how cultural diversity is reflected on philanthropic boards and to also understand how culturally diverse beneficiaries are being supported or left behind in how funding decisions are made.

‘From Colour Blind to Race Conscious: A Roadmap to Action Diversity and Inclusion in Australian Philanthropy’ is a research project that aims to develop an understanding of the extent of cultural diversity representation (which includes First Nations peoples) in the Australian philanthropic sector. It builds on the previous work done in 2022 by the Centre for Social Impact UNSW and the Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research.

This latest report presents findings from interviews and surveys with grant funders and grant recipients to examine the extent of cultural diversity representation in the philanthropic sector and the flow-on impact for the partners and communities it works with.

Read the report here

“Philanthropists can’t truly empower diverse organisations and people until they recognise that [their] ways of working need to fundamentally change” – (survey participant)

Five priority actions to enable change

The report offers practical strategies that can be immediately implemented to improve organisational cultural diversity, while prioritising the following five recommendations:

  • Work with culturally diverse people and community representatives to find optimal solutions to increase representation, attracting people from different cultures and backgrounds.
  • Shift towards an immersive, engaged, co-designed and collaborative process and practice.
  • Examine and be open to amending funding opportunities, grant guidelines, application processes and reporting requirements to be culturally sensitive, less cumbersome and less competition driven.
  • Identify blind spots and genuinely attempt to understand how power and privilege play out in decision-making.
  • Embed an equity and intersectionality lens such that both issues and the people impacted by these issues are understood and equally prioritised – cultural diversity becomes the norm rather than an ‘add-on’.

This report was authored by researchers at the Centre for Social Impact, UNSW, and Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research.

Get in contact: