Key Points

Literature on inclusion and exclusion within civil society distinguishes two broad approaches: the managerial, based on the private sphere, and the democratic, based upon the public sphere. Regardless of the approach, however, the influence of cultural distance or proximity between endowed foundations and grassroots associations has remained understudied. This research aims to address this gap.

This article shares results of a quantitative comparison of the patterns of funding awarded by a regional endowed foundation in the Netherlands to immigrant grassroots associations and to other grassroots organizations. The results reveal differences in funding despite the foundation’s inclusive strategy. An exploration of success in annual grantmaking to grassroots organizations while the foundation adopted a more managerial approach or a more democratic approach explains these differences, while it also indicates that board and staff composition have only marginal effects on equal treatment in the funding of grassroots associations.

Inclusive strategies focusing exclusively on human resources are not effective, as they ignore the influence of grantmakers’ private values, which underlie the day-to-day organization of endowed foundations. By becoming more aware of their own inherently exclusive characteristics, foundations could gain a better understanding of the potential consequences of various funding strategies for different beneficiaries.

While the literature on the nonprofit sector is increasingly dominated by a businesslike approach, such practices may not necessarily improve grantmaking for endowed foundations. Grassroots organizations — especially those involving people from immigrant backgrounds — may be better served by practices derived from the public sphere, such as community input and access to the decision-making process.

Open Access