As part of the racial equity work that we began in the summer of 2020, the Many Hands Board commissioned Conditioning Leaders to carry out an assessment of Many Hands’ organizational culture through a lens of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. Beginning in the summer of 2021, Conditioning Leaders consultants reviewed extensive documentation on Many Hands policies and practices in areas including grantmaking, membership, and communications. They also administered a survey to all members from the previous grant cycle in September 2021 and led two focus groups in December 2021. In addition, Board members shared insights from a listening session with members of color, which met in February 2022.

The Executive Summary of Conditioning Leaders’ report on their work appears below. To download the full report, click here. The report highlights areas of both strength and opportunity for Many Hands and helped inform the new strategic plan, Sustaining Impact: 2022–2025. Notably, the strategic plan:

  • Commits Many Hands to lean into trust-based philanthropy;
  • Prioritizes broadening the membership base;
  • Calls for continued education about diversity, equity, and inclusion to support both membership and grantmaking goals;
  • Supports inclusion, equity, and belonging in all aspects of Many Hands’ operations, including education programs, social opportunities, community involvement, leadership, and communications.

We look forward to working with all members to realize these goals and build an even stronger organization that will continue to support donors, applicants, and grantees and promote racial equity.

Executive Summary

2020 and 2021 have been critical years in our country’s history. Three pandemics–COVID-19, political and economic instability, and white supremacy–have combined to galvanize millions into marching behind the rallying cry, “Enough is enough.” The devastating impact of COVID-19 on Black and brown communities has laid bare the impact of structural racism in the United States, at the same time that racialized violence and the backlash against movement toward equity have cast a spotlight on the continued strength of white supremacy. In response, pressure for change at every level on which racism operates–internally, interpersonally, institutionally, and structurally–continues to grow.

Like many funders, Many Hands (MH) has been working intentionally over the past two years to better understand how racism and bias show up in the challenges grantmakers seek to address and in grantmaking itself. This commitment is reflected in internal and external communications, educational opportunities, the creation of the Racial Equity Working Group, and added reflection questions in the Focus Area Committee decision making process. In addition, this process has led Many Hands to examine the member experience through a lens of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB), with the goal of strengthening both its grantmaking and the organization as a whole.

In the spring of 2021, Many Hands engaged Conditioning Leaders to support its racial equity and DEIB work by designing and leading a racial equity learning series for members and by conducting an organizational culture assessment through a DEIB lens. Both projects took place in the fall of 2021. This report draws on the DEIB assessment to share high level themes, patterns in member perceptions, areas of success, challenges, recommendations, and questions that need further exploration. It reports findings from the DEIB survey that was completed by 109 members (39%) in September 2021 and is informed by two member listening sessions that took place in December 2021.


Overall, members give Many Hands high marks on inclusion and equity. More than 80% of members feel valued and supported and that they can contribute to Many Hands in ways that interest them. Nearly 60% agree that MH policies and practices promote an inclusive and equitable environment.

Members give Many Hands lower marks for diversity. Fewer than 60% report having had opportunities to know and learn from members with a diverse range of identities, experiences, and perspectives. Fewer than 40% believe that MH policies and practices promote membership diversity.

A large majority of members (more than 90%) believe that racial equity is essential to Many Hands’ work, and more than 80% believe that the leadership is committed to supporting racial equity. Roughly two-thirds of members agree that the membership shares this commitment.

Most members (more than 80%) believe that Many Hands’ grantmaking supports racial equity. Of members who have served on a Focus Area Committee, close to 80% believe that their most recent committee’s evaluation of applicants reflected commitment to racial equity. Large majorities, in the range of 85%-90%, report feeling heard and valued in the committee process and believe, more broadly, that their most recent committee operated in a way that was equitable and inclusive.

The report includes more details about these responses, as well as themes raised in survey comments and listening sessions, which reflect a range of views and experiences.


The assessment revealed a desire amongst a critical mass of members to sharpen their “DEIB lens” as they evaluate potential grantees. The following are abbreviated recommendations for how Many Hands might support that learning:

  • Continued racial equity education might be provided through existing events and book groups, as well additional learning and discussion sessions.
  • Group learning about the values of Trust Based Philanthropy could move Many Hands further along on its equity aspirations if applied systematically.
  • The Racial Equity Working Group should track work to date–its own and that of the wider organization–as part of Many Hands’ “DEIB Story.” Chronicle the steps you’ve taken to date and use the information internally to track progress and hold yourselves accountable.
  • Before taking any recruitment action to increase diversity, a plan should be in place. The population of the DC/Maryland/Virginia areas should be researched and known to all who are involved in member recruitment before creating these metrics.
  • Targeted recruitment may yield better diversity outcomes. For example, use LinkedIn to find prospective members and leaders that express interest and expertise in philanthropy and/or the issues and organizations Many Hands supports.
  • Many Hands must continue to assure that new members feel welcomed. We recommend a buddy system in which current members mentor new members, accompany them to events, and generally introduce new members to the dynamics of Many Hands.