Supporting Grantees Through Executive Transitions

Throughout our many years of funding social justice organizations, we've heard a common refrain from executive directors:  they lack the support they need when they transition into new leadership positions within social justice organizations. This concern is raised most often, moreover, by  directors who are women and/or people of color who increasingly make up  a majority of Veatch grantees — and of the movement as a whole.

To build a deeper understanding of the needs of executive directors during moments of transitions, in the Fall of 2020 Veatch commissioned long-time racial justice activist and movement leader Rinku Sen to survey more than 100 of our grantees and to conduct focus groups with over 20 of them. This project was managed by Domenico Romero, PhD, Senior Program Officer at Veatch. Here, we share some of our most important findings and what Veatch is doing to address this issue. By sharing the knowledge we learned throughout this in-depth process, we hope to inform our partners in social justice organizing and progressive philanthropy — and work alongside them to address the issue. 

I. What Have We Learned?

Through extensive conversations with Veatch grantees, we learned that new executive directors who are women and/or people of color are more likely to face scrutiny or receive less support than their white male counterparts. Many of the top reasons funders cite for this added scrutiny, moreover, reflect structural barriers and may reinforce bias against leaders who are women and people of color. For a detailed breakdown of our findings, click here. 

II. What Are We Doing About It?

The lessons learned from this process — and from our ongoing communication with our grantees and other partners in the field  — have affirmed the aspects of Veatch’s funding model that can better support our grantees directly. We hope, in turn, that the best practices gleaned from what our grantees shared with us can educate and inform other philanthropic partners. To learn more of what Veatch is doing to support our grantees through leadership transitions, click here.  

III. Additional Reading

Recent research and analysis support what we have found throughout this project. To learn more about some of these reports and pieces of research, click here.