Debora Guidetti shares the outcomes of the PEX Racial Equity Working Group Survey on the needs of the PEXcommunity and how the Working Group can sustain its capacity and orient its work to advance racial equity in Europe.
Created during the pandemic and after the protests of the Black Lives Matter movement in Europe, the PEX Racial Equity working group has gathered monthly since the fall of 2020 as a community of practice for philanthropic networks willing to contribute to racial justice in Europe. After a few meetings, we put together a list of useful resources in the Racial Equity & Philanthropy European Knowledge Hub. Twenty-ish PEXcommunity members participated in these calls, and we had many ideas of initiatives we could take considering both programmatic and internal implications for philanthropy, but how to prioritise them? Which could be most relevant and helpful also to other PEX members willing to advance racial equity?
We decided to revert to the collective knowledge and legitimacy of the PEXcommunity, and last spring, we put together a survey of 5 questions to inform and orientate the work of our working group. In June, 17 representatives of regional, national, and European philanthropy networks who are part of the PEX community contributed to the survey sharing their advice on how we can sustain their capacity to advance racial equity in Europe.
Thanks to all these contributions, we now have a better understanding of which initiatives bear the highest potential to answer your and your members’ needs. Considering the ranked responses, the feedback gathered via the open-ended questions, and our exchanges in the group, we are now developing a work plan according to the following three priorities:
1. Understanding the terminology and debates around racism in Europe and how to talk about it
“Our working group could act as a community of practice to exchange among peers around racial equity, including about challenges like how to address potential lack of awareness or resistance among peers, leadership, foundations’ board members, or even media and policymakers.”
Many respondents would welcome activities aimed at “establishing a culture of discussing racial equity in our sector”and “raise awareness about the relevance of a racial equity lens in all areas of work (e.g., migration, climate, detention, etc.)”. Our peers pointed us to the need for “a space to explore different traditions or debates and to broaden our and our members’ awareness of how other jurisdictions are approaching racial equity”. Our working group could act as “a community of practice to exchange among peers around racial equity, including about challenges like how to address potential lack of awareness or resistance” among peers, leadership, foundations’ board members, or even media and policymakers. It is at this level, for instance, that we are already sharing an informal list of experts and speakers. In line with this work on knowledge exchange and narratives, our working group will undertake various initiatives to keep the conversation going within the wider PEXcommunity also by keeping the Racial Equity & Philanthropy European Knowledge Hub updated with useful tools and other resources (including on various forms of racial inequality and general trends), proposing blog posts by and exchanges with advocates with lived experiences, etc.
2. European Philanthropy Racial Equity Case Studies and Tools
“It’s best to work with tools that already exist, creating a repository of these and sharing best practice, then to transplant or adapt too much [given the] risk that bringing certain initiatives to the European level makes them too broad/bland when they need to be specific.”
Sharing examples of various types of foundations in different national contexts who are making progress in addressing racial inequality could help inspire and inform the work of philanthropy support organisations and their members. Various respondents requested more information about philanthropic efforts aimed to address root causes of these problems and European good practices that apply an intersectional racial equity lens. This would include lessons learned on what did not work or the challenges faced.
The Racial Equity & Philanthropy European Knowledge Hub already acts as a first entry repository of tools, but we could do more to showcase existing initiatives to assess and foster philanthropic efforts for racial equity. Adapting tools to help foundation staff assess the status and potential of their grantmaking in relation to racial equity or proposing a more holistic organizational self-assessment tool for individual foundations triggered some clear interest (being respectively ranked as 2nd and 6th among the proposed options). But our group shared the view offered by one respondent that at this stage, and for PEX, “it’s best to work with tools that already exist, creating a repository of these and sharing best practice, then to transplant or adapt too much [given the] risk that bringing certain initiatives to the European level makes them too broad/bland when they need to be specific.”
3. A mapping of philanthropic and CSOs network initiatives for racial equity
“It would be difficult to create something that would be advanced enough for certain national contexts that it doesn’t feel weak (and open to criticism) and simultaneously gets other jurisdictions on board who are further behind.”
This was slightly deprioritised as the appetite around language, case studies and tools came up with clearer prominence. Still, it came among the first 4 ranked answers, and it would be a relatively low-hanging fruit that our group could offer to the PEXcommunity.
For the moment, we dropped the idea of a Funders’ Commitment. As a respondent noted: “it would be difficult to create something that would be advanced enough for certain national contexts that it doesn’t feel weak (and open to criticism) and simultaneously gets other jurisdictions on board who are further behind.”
An interesting idea shared by a respondent which could be explored further, but which would also require more resources and a stronger mandate, is that of cross-national data collection among European foundations as it “could also be useful to show the gaps in numbers and to be able to measure future improvements. We have had the experience that senior managers, in particular, ask for numbers.”
Thanks to all of those who filled out our quick survey last June, the results of this survey are giving our group a clearer mandate for action and orientation for its work. We hope this will also make it more relevant to your needs, and ultimately help philanthropy in Europe fulfil its commitment to fundamental values.
Still curious? Follow the “Racial Equity” topic on Mighty Networks and don’t hesitate to join the Racial Equity working group by contacting Biray Bensu De Meulemeester (email@example.com).
Senior European Programme Manager at Ariadne – European Funders for Social Change and Human Rights and lead of the PEX Racial Equity Working Group.