Disability Funders Network (DFN) is a national membership and philanthropic advocacy organization that seeks equality and rights for disabled individuals and communities by bridging philanthropic resources, disability and community. DFN envisions an empowered and functioning democracy with full equality under the law, equal access to services, unconditional respect for difference and the meaningful participation of all communities at tables where decisions are made.
We seek to accomplish our mission by:
Serving as a resource for grantmakers and community groups to increase and strengthen institutional giving to disability communities. Since 1994, we have studied, shaped and strengthened disability grantmaking by convening and educating funders, providing reliable research on institutional funding patterns and disseminating information on issues relevant to our communities.
Providing regular and reliable research on philanthropy about — and to — disability communities. Our comprehensive research efforts allow us to track foundation giving in the United States, ensuring that disability funders remain attuned to their constituencies and that their giving reaches diverse populations and the issues they prioritize.
Bringing together and broadening the base of disability funders to improve grantmaking and organizational capacity for disability rights, including racial, economic and social justice. Since our inception, we have ensured that grantmakers have an organized space to discuss disability grantmaking, learn about each other and the field, share resources and ideas, and hold one another accountable for increasing foundation giving to our communities.
Disability-inclusive grantmaking is the mission of DFN: inclusion of disability in grantmaking programs and inclusion of people with disabilities in grantmaking organizations.
Disability belongs in any grantmaking program that supports diversity. Or education. Or employment. Or housing. Or civic participation, arts and culture, technology, health care or any other element of life. The interests and needs of people with disabilities mirror those of other groups.
Notwithstanding the strides made in disability rights in the past 25 years, the majority of people with disabilities are poor, underemployed and undereducated due largely to unequal opportunities. People with disabilities constitute the largest minority group in the United States, making up an estimated 20 percent of the total population. It is a diverse group, crossing lines of age, ethnicity, gender, race, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status.
We all have a personal stake in this community: it is open to anyone who might experience an accident, illness, genetic difference or the effects of aging. And yet, the Foundation Center reported that only 2.9 percent of grants made by institutionalized philanthropy in 2003 was directed to programs serving people with disabilities.
Disability Funders Network was established in 1994 to be a catalyst for creating a new understanding of how private funders can respond to disability issues and to show how disability concerns can be an essential part of all philanthropic programs. We encourage you to take full advantage of DFN’s resources and its network of expertise.