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Rural Equity Consultant(s)

United Philanthropy Forum
Job Title: Rural Equity Consultant(s)
Job Type:
Job Search Ends:
July 15th, 2020
Organization's Website:

Request for Proposals: Rural Equity Consultant(s)

Release June 2020
Deadline to Respond: July 15, 2020 Senior Project Manager/Consultant(s) Time Period: 
27-30 months

United Philanthropy Forum welcomes proposals from consultants to support our work to advance rural equity in philanthropy. Consultants with rural knowledge and facilitation experience, skilled in issues of equity will be hired to staff the Rural Philanthropy Advisory and PSO Working Groups and serve as project manager and coordinate the various activities within the Forum. Consultants will be required to conduct scans, gather existing resources to push out to the field, create work stories and manage and evaluate the mini-grant program. An Evaluation Consultant will be hired to conduct an overarching evaluation of this work with the Forum.

Background on the Forum

United Philanthropy Forum leads, strengthens and informs a national network of 86 regional and national philanthropy-serving organizations (PSOs) that advance philanthropy's impact for the common good. Forum members represent more than 7,000 philanthropic organizations, making us the largest network serving philanthropy in America. The Forum has created a new kind of philanthropic network that brings together regional PSOs' deep regional roots and connections with national PSOs' deep content knowledge and reach. Given our network's scale and scope, we can lead change and increase impact in philanthropy in a deeper and broader way than any other organization. (See list of Forum members in Appendix A.)

Our Vision

We envision a courageous philanthropic sector that catalyzes a just and equitable society where all can participate and prosper.

Our Mission

We lead, strengthen and inform a national network of organizations that advance philanthropy's impact for the common good.

Our Values

Collaboration, Continuous Learning, Equity & Inclusion, Generosity of Spirit and Innovation

May 2020 RFP for United Philanthropy Forum Rural Equity Work


Background on Forum’s Rural Equity Work

Rural communities across America continue to suffer from generations of underinvestment from philanthropy. The inequity of resources has led to persistent poverty, lack of economic opportunity, poor housing, education failures and a myriad of other neglected social determinants of health and well-being for residents of these communities. Philanthropy needs to recognize best practices that are for and of rural communities that exist all over the country and begin to invest more dollars, in a more equitable way, in rural communities. Our ultimate goal will be to harness the power of rural communities and their research, data and resource partners that can support United Philanthropy Forum in moving funders toward a rural equity agenda and to increase philanthropy’s support of rural communities toward the realization ofthat agenda.

Given the important anchor role that local and regional funders play (as funders, conveners, and thought leaders influencing the mindsets of others) in creating community conditions, there is an important opportunity to help shift conversations and awareness about the social and economic factors that drive equity and catalyze related action in rural places. This will also help the field of philanthropy to better understand its role to support and strengthen capacity in rural places and advance policies and practices that improve social and economic opportunity and equity.

Objectives and Activities

United Philanthropy Forum envisions a courageous philanthropic sector that catalyzes a just and equitable society where all can participate and prosper. We can help to infuse rural importance and best practices to advance equity into all of the PSOs, and the PSOs will in turn influence their foundation members. Our network has been proven to be an effective way to garner and share resources, elevate work from deep in communities, share innovation and ideas happening across the country, catalyze aligned and pooled funding to address issues of equity, and help influence change in funder behavior. This approach has the benefit of getting the work done without building something new that needs to be spun off into its own organization. This approach is sustainable and durable.

The purpose of this project is to provide “connective tissue” across rural funders’ nodes, to highlight trends and advance practice in rural philanthropy, by increasing understanding across the field of philanthropy about: (1) what drives equity in rural places;(2) effective strategies and approaches to improve social and economic opportunity and equity in rural places; and (3) the key elements of a rural-serving funder (both private and public) community that best recognizes, develops and supports these strategies and practices. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) continues to invest resources to support the research and elevation of

knowledge around the issues and work of equity and economic development best practices in rural communities. What is needed to maximize the use of this work and amplify the findings to the field is a trusted education and distribution channel and a focus on the issues of rural America.


This would be the first attempt to bring this knowledge directly to funders across the county and also elevate the work of rural leaders and organizations on the ground back to funders. It

would also create a feedback loop from funders to providers. United Philanthropy Forum is that trusted education and distribution channel that can lead to change in philanthropic practice through this bi-directional connection between field and funders.

A recent Hewlett Foundation study found that funder associations and networks—like those in the Forum membership—are the top source of practice knowledge that contribute to foundations changing their practice to be more effective in their philanthropy. We have already used our new network to change philanthropic practice by sharing knowledge and best practices in areas like the 2020 census and foundation openness, and look forward to using our network to help address philanthropic disparities in rural America.

Strategy: Bring a Rural Equity Lens to Forum’s Public Policy Work

The Forum operates an active and growing program to build the capacity of our members to engage in public policy and advocacy work, and to help their members do the same. The Forum also shares our leadership voice on policy issues important to the field. Over the next two years the Forum plans to grow our efforts to bring a rural equity lens to our policy and advocacy work.

The Forum provides policy-focused programming to our members throughout the year, most notably through our PolicyWorks Institute, which brings together PSO staff and their member volunteers for two days to take a “deep dive” together to strengthen their policy and advocacy work in philanthropy. The Forum’s 2020 PolicyWorks Institute, which was held in March 9-11th, included our first-ever session on rural equity and cross fertilization of advocacy efforts for legislation like the Farm Bill which matters to all of us but especially to rural and poor communities. We plan to continue to help our members elevate rural equity in their policy and advocacy work in future Institutes and in other Forum policy programming.

In terms of the Forum’s own policy work, the Forum plans to seek outside expertise to guide us in including a rural equity impact analysis for all of our policy positions, and to bring a rural equity lens to other aspects of our policy work. This will not only help the Forum to advance rural equity in our own work but also serve as a model for our members.


Scope of Work

The Forum is seeking outside consulting expertise for the following strategies and activities for our rural equity work:


  •   Synthesize and elevate rural philanthropic practice to highlight approaches and issues and inform more effective rural philanthropic practice

  •   Connect local, regional and national funders, existing funder affinity groups, and rural leaders - for practice and learning - in a way that takes advantage of, draws upon, connects and supports (rather than supplanting) the array of rural philanthropy discussions and efforts going on across the country

  •   Deepen connections between rural philanthropy and the fields of rural research, policy and practice for bi-directional exchange across fields

    Synthesize and elevate rural philanthropic practice to highlight approaches and issues and inform more effective rural philanthropic practice.

  •   The Forum will share current resources and data regularly and highlight them across our communication platforms to both inform our members and provide resources for them to do the same with their grantmaking members across the country.

  •   The Forum will seek additional knowledge, resources and stories from our members about their grantmaking members’ work in rural communities to elevate the current work happening in the field. These resources will be shared with additional outlets including rural platforms (to be identified by our advisory committee), Candid, and the communications vehicles of our member networks.

    Connect local, regional and national funders, existing funder affinity groups, and rural leaders - for practice and learning - in a way that takes advantage of, draws upon, connects and supports (rather than supplanting) the array of rural philanthropy discussions and efforts going on across the country.

     Manage a PSO Rural Philanthropy Working Group comprised of Forum members currently working with rural communities or populations.

  •   Working with Forum REDI consultants, the Forum will develop a plan to engage the Forum’s Racial Equity Committee so that issues of rural equity are intentionally included and elevated as part of the racial equity work across the Forum network.

  •   Using existing RFP models, Forum will adapt an RFP for re-granting to the Forum’s PSO members to encourage and support programming around rural philanthropy practices, engaging rural practitioners and experts as well as support the development of short work stories. These grants can also be used to adapt program agendas to incorporate rural data and key messages into national and regional PSO programming.

    Deepen connections between rural philanthropy and the fields of rural research, policy and practice for bi-directional exchange across fields

    •   Work with issue- and identity-focused PSOs to elevate key issues important to rural communities as well as funders across the country including opioid crisis, education, housing, economic development, environmental issues, etc. to show the commonality of issues alongside the unequal distribution of resources to combat these issues in rural populations, but most especially in rural indigenous and rural communities of colors. The findings will be shared back to our data and resource partners and practitioners.

    •   Incorporate rural expertise into policy discussions at the state and federal level to bring new voices of expertise to broader conversations that deeply impact rural communities as well as all others.

    •   Develop a manageable evaluation process to gauge what is being created, shared and learned to change behavior and investment, and track how rural awareness and inclusion is being embedded in the practice and culture of PSOs and their members.



The position of Senior Project Manager will be an extension of the Forum Team to build capacity at a high level ensuring that this effort will have the resources and leadership needed to embed the work into the PSO sector practices and psyche over a period of 30 months.

The Senior Project Manager will work under the direction of the President and Sr. Vice President and in partnership with other Forum staff and consultants to do the following:

 Work with Forum Team to create a plan for execution, evaluation and communication of all work related to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant

 Manage the Rural Philanthropy Advisory Committee and the PSO Rural Philanthropy Working Group

 Develop and implement strategies for programming and resources for the PSOs and their members

 Work in partnership with existing rural entities to elevate their work and resources through the PSO field

 Oversee the evaluation consultants for the program and work to develop regular reports as needed or required

 Represent the Forum and present on rural philanthropy issues at conferences and meetings

The lead consultant/contractor will be hired for a maximum of @30+ hours per week @$150 per hour which will run through June 2022. The contract will stand through the entirety of the work but will be reviewed and reaffirmed every six months.

An individual consultant is preferred but firms utilizing a lead person to address the scope of the work will be considered as long as there is a primary contact and a single point of contact accountable to the Forum.

Application Procedure

Applicants should submit a proposal of no more than five pages. Proposals should include the following:

  •   A description of your rural related work/expertise as well as your expertise related to facilitation and lived rural experience should be included and any other skills or experience deemed relevant for consideration for your success.

  •   Contact information, resume or vitae of consultant(s) who will perform the service.

  •   References and examples of work from similar types of engagements (confidentiality of work product will be respected).



Responses are due on or before July 15, 2020. Send submissions to: Maggie Gunther Osborn

For questions about the proposal, contact Maggie Osborn, the Forum’s Senior Vice President

and Chief Operating Officer, at maggie@unitedphilforum.org .

Phone interviews will be scheduled with final candidates by July 31, 2020 and consultant will be selected by August 14, 2020. Work will start by September 1, 2020.

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