March 20th, 2024

Why Demographic Data is Important in a Grant Application

Understanding the demographic makeup of grant applicants and their constituencies allows us, as a community funder and partner, to assess whether funding opportunities are reaching a diverse range of individuals and communities. This information helps identify any potential disparities or barriers to access, enabling us to take proactive steps to promote equity and inclusion in our grant-making processes.

Demographic data provides valuable insights to identify trends, patterns, and areas of need within specific demographic groups or geographic regions (our rural communities). This information informs our strategic planning, resource allocation, and program design to better meet the needs of diverse communities.

Funders can (and should) play an important role in supporting organizations to advance DEI principles— but it won’t happen without intentionality and attentiveness. This requires coming up with a proactive plan for engagement, developing guidelines, determining when and how to track progress, and following up—even when these discussions are uncomfortable. Not doing so can easily lead to an acceptance of the status quo, and that, by its very definition, is something we are actively working to shift.

We understand that building an organizational culture around DEI is an ongoing process. Sharing what we learn along the way is a priority for us. At a fundamental level, we want to prevent harm from happening and redress harm when it occurs. We want grantees to know we are serious about our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Additionally, asking for demographic data provides an opportunity to reflect on how committed an organization is to DEI in both policy and practice, based on the program officer’s impressions and the organization’s own analysis. As part of the grant reporting process, grantees are asked to describe any progress made against DEI-related goals, and to explain any changes to their goals—or what they will do differently, based on lessons learned during the reporting period. This is intended to create an accountability and learning loop for both the grantee and the Community Foundation, and keep the conversation about DEI going throughout our relationship with a grantee. ~ written by Gloria Coicou