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Responsive Philanthropy Special Issue on Implicit Bias in Philanthropy

Publication date: 
May, 2015
National Center for Responsive Philanthropy

A special issue of Responsive Philanthropy devoted to what philanthropy can do to combat implicit bias, or the way in which our unconscious minds shape and contribute to our thoughts and actions. A diverse roster of authors explores how this phenomenon both affects the many challenges we as a society face and its implications for how philanthropy addresses these issues.

In the cover story, acclaimed scholar and activist john a. powell lays out “Implicit Bias and Its Role in Philanthropy and Grantmaking.” He provides a comprehensive overview and definition of implicit bias, and explains how the study of mind science gives the sector vital information about how to overcome it. john reminds us that, while those who work in philanthropy have an especially strong commitment to fairness and equality, even this can be undermined by our own susceptibility to biases of which we may not even be aware.

Next, in “Implicit Bias and Native Americans: Philanthropy’s Hidden Minority,” renowned Native rights champion Crystal Echo Hawk shares how this process affects one of the nation’s most underserved communities. Crystal conducted several interviews with both Native and non-Native nonprofit leaders to provide unique assessments of how this hidden bias is affecting the state of Native American philanthropy.

In “Gender Norms: The Missing Part of Gender Equity Philanthropy,” Riki Wilchins, executive director of TrueChild, details how American foundations are lagging behind international grantmakers in their gender justice programming. Riki explains how gender norms, or the ways in which people identify what it means to be male or female, demand a more comprehensive funding approach to successfully effect equal outcomes.

Finally, in “A More Progressive Approach: Recognizing the Role of Implicit Bias in Institutional Racism,” DeAngelo Bester, executive director of the Workers Center for Racial Justice, delves into how racism can look radically different to those who recognize the way implicit bias pervades systems and institutions. DeAngelo offers practical advice on how recognizing one’s own implicit bias is an important first step in negating its effect.