In 2018, we commissioned Simply Secure, a non-profit organisation specialising in human-centred design with a focus on privacy, security and transparency, to undertake a feedback gathering process, using a human-centred research approach to hear from our investees. The purpose was to gain a deeper understanding of our investees’ experiences and perspectives and to generate actionable insights to improve our work that would better centre our investment practices around their needs.
We are pleased to share the outcomes of that research in a new report from Simply Secure, On Trust & Transparency: Perspectives from Luminate’s portfolio.
Whilst many of the issues will be well known in the philanthropic community, we see value in publicly sharing this report to: 1) acknowledge the insights that have emerged from our portfolio; 2) establish a baseline against which we can evaluate ourselves in the future; and 3) contribute to the ongoing discussion of funders’ responsibilities and the importance of understanding and addressing the needs of those we fund.
This research process coincided with ongoing efforts by our team to improve investing processes and practices and to re-establish the values and principles that we will operate by. As such, several changes have already been made that go some way in addressing the recommendations in the report.
Transparency around our strategy and investment processes
We launched this website October 2018 that articulates Luminate’s mission and values, our policies, and our history as an organisation. It also includes an overview of our investment process and investing FAQs.
We published our 2018-2022 Strategic Plan for the first time in January 2019.
We launched our portfolio database, which contains the details of our current investments and grants, in early June 2019.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion
We published a blog in December 2018 which articulates our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), and introduces some of our work on the topic since our launch. This includes publishing our policy document outlining our DEI priorities on our website, revamping our diligence process to account for inclusive workplace issues, and clarifying our legal documentation to ensure it includes specific language which commits our investees to upholding values and principles related to inclusive workplaces that mirror our own commitments.
Portfolio support: We are working to prioritise portfolio management and help our organisations to build capacity and resilience (e.g., executive coaching, fundraising support, digital security trainings, or diversity, equity and inclusion reviews). As such, we developed a portfolio support function in January 2019 and are building this out.
Learning & Impact: We hired a Director of Impact & Learning, who began in May 2019, and will be working to improve our approach to monitoring, learning, and impact evaluation.
We will continue working to better understand and consider how we can integrate the other insights and recommendations from Simply Secure’s research into our practices and future decision-making. We will also explore possible opportunities to utilise human-centred design methods in our work more broadly.
There are inherent challenges in any funding relationship, and we won’t always get things right the first time. But we commit to listening and communicating more, continuing to reflect and improve on our practices, and we ask you, as our investees and peers, to hold us accountable for this.
We hope that in doing so, we can work in partnership to build stronger societies.