Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

NFF is committed to making the community finance sector more equitable.
Illustration with a group of five people holding a large banner that reads Black Lives Matter. One person is kneeling with a paint brush on the right of the sign.

NFF will continue to support Black-led organizations as we listen, learn, and grow.

Click here for a list of organizations you can support in the fight for justice and equity.

Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Communities know their own needs and should be able to make decisions about their future. Yet many communities of color and organizations led by people of color don’t have this opportunity. They have faced decades of disinvestment because of deeply entrenched institutional barriers in how money flows.

As an organization whose primary business is to provide capital and financial advice, NFF is best able to address inequity by helping community-centered organizations gain control of financial resources.

We acknowledge the position of privilege our access to financial and social capital—and that we have been white-led for 40 years—gives us that many organizations on the front lines fighting inequity do not have. We will use our position to advocate for change in the nonprofit sector to build a more equitable nonprofit financial system and actively support grassroots organizations in advocating their own needs.

Our aim is for every aspect of our work to advance racial equity. This will require a variety of efforts, some already in place, to evaluate our blind spots and growth opportunities to ultimately guide us to a new way of working with our clients and within our organization.  

In March of 2020, we formed our Social Innovation and Equity Council (SIEC). Led by Trella Walker, the SIEC works to ensure that our past shortcomings are acknowledged and addressed, and NFF’s commitment to equity is operationalized in our internal and external work going forward. Read more about SIEC here

Our strategy supports our commitment to racial equity.

Our Latest Work

We are proud that our work is mission-driven and guided by our values. While not all of it is specifically equity-focused, here are examples of ways we are advancing racial equity that represent our growing commitment to this value.

We are partnering with fellow CDFI Capital Impact Partners on Catalyzing Finance for Racial Equity (CFRE), a collaborative designed to identify ways CDFIs can refine or develop products and processes to advance health justice. As part of CFRE, we are examining the capacity-building support and capital products that can advance positive outcomes and move the needle on health and racial inequities in communities of color.
Administering loans from the NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund, which included many organizations led by people of color and working on social justice; Offering Spanish-language COVID-19 response tools; Publishing pieces about the need for equity in COVID-19 response in The Hill, Nonprofit Quarterly, and more.
CCFY’s model has been so effective that it has grown rapidly. But in the nonprofit sector, growth comes with financial challenges. In 2017, CCFY was awarded a 5-year, $10.3-million contract from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office to operate a “Youth Opportunity Hub” in Harlem. Many nonprofits that receive such contracts are burdened with late payments that leave the organization unable to meet expenses. Executive director Rev. Rubén Austria said: “It was crazy to get this large amount of money and still be struggling to make payroll and fending off vendors. We could not get a loan from traditional banks because we rent all of our space and don’t have collateral. When NFF provided a $1-million line of credit, it was a lifeline.”
Through a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, NFF advised TTO on their strategic plan from 2017 to 2020. Co-producing executive director Harold Steward said that in addition to technical expertise on finances and management, NFF’s advisors offered key cultural competence. “It was important to us to dismantle systems of white supremacy in our own governance. We chose to move toward a collaborative leadership and decision-making model to amplify diverse perspectives in our community. NFF’s advisers researched models alternative to the status quo to make a plan that worked for our values of liberation,” said Steward.
When hiring, our Talent & Organizational Effectiveness team casts a wide net, reaching out to several networks that represent candidates of varied racial backgrounds. We created an identity style guide to help us communicate with an equity lens and avoid stigmatizing language. Our operations team has developed a process and standards for increasing contracting with diverse vendors.
We discussed how to remove structural barriers that limit their access to resources and how to build a future where social sector funding is more inclusive. Insights from these conversations are one of the tools guiding changes to our business focus and practices.
In October, Antony published an article and accompanying guide; Addressing Racially Biased Financial Analysis. NFF’s Claire Knowlton and Trella Walker, along with the Weingart Foundation’s Fred Ali, published an article advocating for full cost funding as an essential way to make grants more equitable. In addition, Chronicle of Philanthropy recognized their ongoing work helping nonprofit and foundation leaders come together in honest and open discussions about finances as one of the eight most important innovations in the nonprofit sector in 2019. NFF's Jessica LaBarbera published a blog about the need to value equity in outcomes funding.

Organizations we encourage you support in the fight for justice and equity:

We will continue to update this page with our latest efforts around diversity, equity, and inclusion. Check back every few months for our latest work.

Last updated: July 16, 2020

We collaborate with many to help advance a more equitable society.

Partner with us