Is foundation giving fair?

Foundations are not doing enough to support the needs of minority and low-income communities, a nonprofit research group says.

The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy in Washington offered that assessment in anticipation of this afternoon’s hearing of the House Ways and Means subcommittee on oversight, which focuses on whether foundations and charities are doing enough to serve the needs of minorities.

U.S. Rep. John Lewis, the Georgia Democrat who chairs the committee, called the hearing because he believes the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina exposed gaps in the way the government and charities provide help to minorities.

Aaron Dorfman, NCRP’s executive director, said his organization’s analysis of foundation grant data shows that foundations are not doing enough to fill those gaps.

“Sadly, while there are notable exceptions, the numbers show that foundations generally fail to provide significant support for low-income communities, communities of color and other marginalized groups,” Mr. Dorfman said in his written testimony, which is available on the organization’s Web site. “Foundation grant making for ethnic minorities is low and is not growing at the same rate as overall giving.”

Why do you think this disparity exists and do foundations have a responsibility (moral or otherwise) to ensure that their giving benefits all populations in their community?