Philanthropy’s Role in Fostering a Just and Equitable Society

October 30, 2017

Blog post by Deb Dubin, President & CEO, Gateway Center for Giving

Where we’ve been: For more than three years, the Gateway Center for Giving (GCG) has been intentionally engaged in providing our funding community with opportunities to learn and dialogue about the issues of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). In the aftermath of Michael Brown’s death in August 2014, we tracked immediate regional philanthropic responses to the events in Ferguson and provided that information to our Members in order to foster collaboration and identify engagement points. Since that time, we have offered Members a robust series of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Funders Affinity Group programs, exploring DEI within our organizations and in the broader community. Our team developed a new sector tool, the Missouri Common Grant Application Version 2.0, which infuses an equity lens into the grantmaking process in order to foster transformation, spark dialogue and boost accountability. Most recently, we’ve become a community co-signor to a powerful statement calling for policy and decision-makers to deliver swift action on Ferguson Commission’s Calls to Action.

REWG co-chairs, Susan Taylor Batten, President and CEO of ABFE, and Tamara Copeland, President & CEO of the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers.

National implications for this work: As a member of the United Philanthropy Forum’s (the “Forum”) Racial Equity Working Group (REWG), I traveled to Washington, DC last week to participate in two days of conversations about how the Forum can best support a national philanthropic commitment to addressing and eradicating inequity. The Forum network consists of various moving parts, with sector leaders sitting in organizational seats all over the country. Some Forum members are already firmly engaged in substantial programming and activities intended to advance racial equity, diversity and inclusion, while others are newer to the work and seeking a meaningful path forward. The Forum intends to bring together all the groups working in this area to connect, learn and share from each other in a more intentional way.

The Forum’s REWG is being co-chaired by Susan Taylor Batten, President and CEO of ABFE: a Philanthropic Partnership for Black Communities, and Tamara Copeland, President & CEO of the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers. The REWG will focus on the following action items:

  • Identify effective resources, programming and strategies that have been developed and used to advance racial equity in philanthropy;
  • Identify any gaps in what is needed in resources and programming to advance racial equity in philanthropy;
  • Provide strategic guidance to the Forum staff to lift up, adapt and/or develop resources and programming that can be used by Forum members across the network;
  • Provide guidance to the Forum’s Education Committee and Board of Directors on the Forum’s strategic priorities and goals around advancing racial equity in philanthropy; and
  • Evaluate progress over time.

How can we, as philanthropy-supporting organizations (PSOs), foster a more just and equitable society? How can we encourage increased philanthropic investment to support transformative change?

This is a watershed moment. Organized philanthropy is a critical partner in the work, and the Gateway Center for Giving is committed to providing our Members with meaningful support and tools for action.

Gateway Center for Giving is grateful to the Trio Foundation of St. Louis, Commerce Bank, Spire, the Missouri Foundation for Health, and the Clemence Lieber Foundation for their support of our DEI-focused initiatives.


Gateway Center for Giving Launches Missouri Common Grant Application, Version 2.0

July 5, 2017


Free, Customizable Tool for Grantmakers Elevates Best Practices in Giving

The Gateway Center for Giving is pleased to announce the launch of the Missouri Common Grant Application (CGA) Version 2.0, which now incorporates questions about diversity, equity and inclusion into the customizable grant application template. The CGA, a free community resource, facilitates the application process for grantmakers and grantees. It is available for download by visiting the Gateway Center for Giving website. A companion User Guide, Budget Template, and all-new Funder Guide are also available.

“For the past several years, the Gateway Center for Giving has taken a leadership role in convening regional funders around issues of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and the impact on philanthropic practices. The newly revised CGA Version 2.0 helps grantmakers to extend their commitment to DEI by infusing an intentional DEI lens into their strategies. While every grantmaker will have different guidelines, priorities, and deadlines, this is a customizable tool, and we encourage funders to utilize it,” said Gateway Center for Giving CEO Deborah Dubin.

“To build CGA Version 2.0, the Gateway Center for Giving team has researched best practices; convened local funders and nonprofits for discussion and feedback; and consulted with national organizations who are leading the charge to incorporate a DEI lens into grantmaking practices,” said Jama Dodson, Board Chairman of the Gateway Center for Giving and Executive Director of the Saint Louis Mental Health Board. Cynthia Crim, a grantmaker and member of the revision committee, noted that “CGA Version 2.0 will help funders expand their conversations with grantees and gather meaningful data on community progress on the road to equity.”

The Missouri CGA was first created in 2012 as a sector tool, and it has been highly utilized by regional grantmakers, as well as drawing considerable interest from organizations across the country. Support for the effort to revise and expand the CGA in 2017 was provided by the Trio Foundation of St. Louis, Spire, and the Clemence Lieber Foundation.

New Grant Reporting Tool Helps Funders Assess Effectiveness

March 25, 2015

The Gateway Center for Giving is pleased to announce the launch of a new Grant Reporting Tool, consisting of general tips and a menu of core questions that are considered best practices in effective grant reporting.  The Grant Reporting Tool and accompanying resources are available on the Gateway Center for Giving website, Read the rest of this entry »

An Interview with the Incarnate Word Foundation- Adopting the Missouri Common Grant Application

October 21, 2011

The Missouri Common Grant Application was officially launched in August of this year.  So how is it being received by the grantmaking community?  With open arms! To help nonprofits and grantmakers better understand how the application is being used by a local grantmaker we interviewed Margaret Smetana, a Program Officer with the Incarnate Word Foundation of St. Louis (IWFDN).  IWFDN tested the application with its grantees this past summer and based on the success of that test have decided to continue using the application.

  1. So Margaret, the Incarnate Word Foundation (IWFDN) was one of the first foundations in the region to test the Missouri Common Grant Application (CGA) with its grant applicants this summer. How was the application received by your potential grantees?

Based on anecdotal feedback from grantees as well as responses to the Gateway Center for Giving’s survey, grantees seemed to be overall very happy with the Common Grant Application. Of those applicants who responded to the survey, 63% thought that the CGA was more user friendly than other grant applications they have completed.  A piece of the CGA that contributed to this positive feedback was the User Guide that is included with the application. 68% of applicants felt that this was a helpful tool.

One of the challenges applicants brought up was that some questions were written for program-based grants instead of operational grants. Since IWF’s grants are mostly operational grants, some of the language in the application did not translate perfectly for the Foundation’s purposes. Read the rest of this entry »

Missouri Common Grant Application- Frequently Asked Questions

September 27, 2011
It has been two months since the Gateway Center for Giving launched the Missouri Common Grant Application (CGA) and we couldn’t be more pleased with the feedback we are receiving about the Application. Eight grantmakers have already agreed to accept (or accept soon) the CGA and many more are reviewing the application and introducing it to their boards in hopes of getting approval to begin using it.

At today’s Meet the Donor program, over 100 nonprofit representatives came together to learn about the CGA and hear from grantmakers who helped to develop the application and plan to use it as part of their grant process.  The panel included Ann Vazquez (President of the Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis), Kathy Gardner (Senior Vice President of the Community Investment Division at the United Way of Greater St. Louis), and Keith Brooks (Director of Cardinals Care). The panelists shared with the group information about when they plan to start using it and how they expect to use it (Lutheran- starting in October 2011, added a few questions; United Way- starting in Jan 2012, eliminating questions, one-time grant requests only; Cardinals- started using it in July, eliminated a few questions). Read the rest of this entry »

Introducing the Missouri Common Grant Application

August 8, 2011

A Common Grant Application (CGA) has been created for Missouri grantmakers. With the guidance of a committee of St. Louis area grantmakers, the Gateway Center for Giving has developed a Common Grant Application toolkit that will streamline the grantseeking process. This is a FREE tool that has been made possible through the generosity of grantmakers in the St. Louis region.

The goals for the creation of this application were to:

  • Design a standard, yet customizable, Common Grant Application (CGA) for Missouri grantmakers.
  • Allow Missouri grantmakers and grantseekers to work from a common set of questions that reinforce solid nonprofit practices.
  • Save grantseekers time and effort by using a streamlined format for many different applications. Read the rest of this entry »

The Creation of a Common Grant Application for Missouri

June 15, 2011

Did you know that a group of grantmakers has come together to create a Missouri Common Grant Application (CGA)?  

As part of its work to advance organized philanthropy, the Gateway Center for Giving is thrilled to announce the creation of a Missouri Common Grant Application. With the guidance of a committee of St. Louis area grantmakers, the Gateway Center for Giving has developed a Common Grant Application toolkit that will streamline the grantseeking process.

More than 12 foundations in the St. Louis region came together over the past year to create this application toolkit.  The committee worked with local nonprofits and grantwriting professionals to test the application to ensure that it meets the needs of both the nonprofit and grantmaking community.

The Common Grant Application is the result of a collaborative effort between funder and nonprofit organizations working to build the performance capability of the nonprofit sector in St. Louis and the state of Missouri. We are pleased to provide this service to the philanthropic and nonprofit communities.

The application is still in test phase but will hopefully be rolled out in late summer 2011.  Some St. Louis area grantmakers have already agreed to adopt the application and will be testing it during their summer grant cycle.

Stay tuned for more information about this important project.  If you would like more information about this project please contact Lindsey Greenberg at

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