Our Approach

The Durfee Foundation’s impact cannot be measured solely by the amount of money it gives away—how we work and what we bring to our community beyond grant dollars are just as important. Durfee is a patient grantmaker and seeks to be a trusting partner. We believe that meaningful, lasting change isn’t always easy to measure in a chart and certainly doesn’t happen overnight. We select grantees with great care and attention, we offer them guidance and support, then we let them get to work. We are deeply committed to the success of our grantees, partners, and LA.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

We recognize that Durfee’s work rests on the shoulders of Angelenos whose courage, innovation and lived experience are making LA a better place. We nurture a culture of trust and inclusion in all of our interactions, especially with people from historically marginalized groups. We recognize the inherent power imbalance that we hold as stewards of financial resources and look for opportunities to share that power. We strive to actively learn from, partner with, and invest in leaders who are deeply rooted in the communities they serve.

Trust Based Philanthropy

Durfee has long believed that trust should be at the center of philanthropy. Durfee is proud to support and actively participate in the national Trust Based Philanthropy Project, which reimagines traditional funder-grantee relationships and seeks to change the inherent power imbalance that can constrain nonprofits from carrying out their work. The project promotes a set of principles to the broader funder community, including being transparent and responsive; providing stable general operating support; and soliciting and acting on feedback, among others.

Continuous Learning

Durfee has a “tinkering culture” of constantly testing new ideas and old assumptions. Durfee looks to its grant recipients as active partners in determining how best to shape its programs. In fact, most of Durfee’s programs have evolved because of this direct feedback. While we also engage in more conventional forms of evaluation, we greatly value open conversations with former grant recipients, and we’re always striving to learn and improve.

Mentor Relationships

Durfee offers extraordinary people access to the relationships that might advance their work. We connect people who have been down a path with those who are about to embark on a similar journey. Whether it’s pairing an emerging leader with a seasoned leader, or connecting peers in different sectors, we foster informal working relationships among colleagues.

Convening and Nurturing Networks

The Durfee Foundation builds bridges and makes connections by bringing people together across the wide expanse of LA. Many of our grant programs are built around gatherings of people who might not otherwise meet because they work in different fields, different parts of town, or come from varied racial, generational, or other backgrounds. From these gatherings, relationships and networks form and often take on a life of their own — people tap into each other’s expertise, ideas and contacts in between Durfee gatherings. As the Durfee network grows and deepens with each passing year, it is better positioned to address LA’s most complex, interrelated issues.

Small But Nimble

Compared to many other foundations, the Durfee Foundation’s assets are modest. We aspire to have an outsized impact with our grant dollars by being aware, responsive, and nimble. The Durfee Foundation is always looking for ways to stretch resources, leverage other opportunities for our partners, and remain flexible and adaptable to change.