New Report Shows Women Dominate Leadership of Leanly Staffed Foundations Yet Gender Pay Gap Persists

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New report from Exponent Philanthropy shows trends regarding leanly-staffed foundations' grantmaking, administration, governance and investments. Key findings include: gender pay gap persists despite the majority of small foundation leaders are women, 90% of leanly-staffed foundations use a wide range of consultants to carry out their mission and there is a growing interest in supporting advocacy efforts.

According to Exponent Philanthropy’s 2018 Foundation Operations and Management Report, women are most likely to lead leanly staffed foundations, which comprise the majority of foundations in the United States. Two-thirds of the top administrators of leanly staffed foundations are women, yet they earn, on average, 84 cents for every dollar paid to men.

“Philanthropy is one of the few sectors dominated by women, but unfortunately the gender pay gap exists similar to other sectors,” said Henry L. Berman, Exponent Philanthropy’s chief executive officer. “We believe it is important to build awareness of the gender pay gap so that foundation boards can address it and correct it.”

Also, this year’s report includes race demographics of foundation staff and boards. As expected, lean philanthropy is dominated by individuals who identify as white. Nearly forty percent (39%) of leanly staffed foundations reported having non-white representation on their boards, however, and one-third (33%) of foundations reported having non-white representation among their staff. Exponent Philanthropy plans to use this year’s data as a benchmark and will track racial diversity trends going forward.

The 2018 Foundation Operations and Management Report also includes the following findings:

  • Leanly staffed foundations give locally, nationally, and internationally. The vast majority (89%) support their local communities, and 21% give internationally.
  • 79% make general operating grants, up from 77% in the previous year.
  • 32% make grants to support advocacy efforts, up from 27% in the previous year.
  • The most important issue facing leanly staffed foundations continues to be board/generational succession.
  • Leanly staffed foundations supplement their operations with consultants. Ninety percent report using consultants for activities other than investments and accounting.
  • Leanly staffed foundations are increasingly using technology to streamline processes, most often using technology for accounting, charity status/grantee due diligence, and online document sharing.

About the Report
The 2018 Foundation Operations and Management Report is based on the 17th operations and management survey of members of Exponent Philanthropy that was fielded in summer 2017. The report details trends in foundation grantmaking, operations, investments, and governance. For a free press copy of the report, please email Jeanne(at)exponentphilanthropy(dot)org.

About Exponent Philanthropy
Exponent Philanthropy is the country’s largest association of funders—nearly 2,000 members strong—and the only one dedicated to serving foundations with few or no staff, philanthropic families, and individual donors. Its vibrant network has in common lean operations and a style of philanthropy motivated by personal passion, community needs, and the strong desire for better outcomes. The association provides high-quality and cost-effective programs, resources, and connections that maximize its members’ dollars and time for the benefit of diverse communities and causes.

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Jeanne Metzger
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