Late last month I had the honor to moderate a panel of local nonprofit executives on diversity and inclusion practices within the organizations they lead. The discussion titled, “Building a Culture of Board and Organizational Diversity,” centered on strategies and tactics for consciously engaging diverse talent from all levels of community-based organizations. It was clear the topic hit a cord as the venue was filled with executive and mid-level staff and several board members representing a wide variety of mission-driven organizations. While each panelist shared a unique set of strategies and engagement tactics that fit their organization, the core values – diversity, equity and inclusion – were fundamentally shared across each of the organizations represented.
Diversity in the Nonprofit Sector
In preparing for this moderated discussion, I researched nonprofit statistics and trends of diversity practices and commitments in the nonprofit sector. In a comprehensive examination of the diversity of the nonprofit sector conducted by Community Wealth Partners, I learned that while people of color represent 30% of the American workforce, only 18% of non-profit staff and 22% of foundation staff is comprised of people of color.
All the while, in the back of my mind, I wondered what the data reflected for grantmakers’ approach to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion within their own grantmaking structures. In the study cited above, Community Wealth Partners reported, “for foundations, this number significantly decreases when looking at leadership and board member positions.” The authors of this research stated, “This gap in diversity across staff and leadership in the sector reflects a lack of diversity in perspectives and backgrounds that could help organizations better understand the market and adapt and innovate strategies.”
The big ‘D’ in Philanthropy: Resources & Next Steps in the Journey
As a person of color (4th generation Mexican-American and full-bred Texan!), I know the reality of this data. Equally, as a decade-long, practicing grantmaking professional, I know there are advancements in engaging diversity in philanthropy as I have witnessed these actions in the clients I support and professional affiliations I am a part of.
The resources cited below are ones I have found helpful to my own practice and that of my clientele on how best to engage diverse, powerful change agents of community:
Career Pathways to Philanthropic Leadership: Conversation on Diversity and Inclusive Practices (Council on Foundations)
CHANGE Philanthropy (formerly Joint Affinity Groups)
At CivicAIM, we believe in the power of “civic” as it signifies community and “aim” to build connection to the strengths and assets of different communities as well as to their needs. Much like the brilliance and range of depth in a kaleidoscope, may your journey of inclusion interlink connectivity and a non-exhaustive perspective of compassion, understanding and abundance of ideas to advance your social mission.
Define & Refine Your Philanthropic Aim
One of the greatest aspects of developing a philanthropic strategy is the sheer creativity and thoughtfulness injected into your aims of creating the positive change you seek in the world.
Philanthropy is personal and creates connection.
Intentions activate purpose.
And because of this, there is no ‘one size fits all’, which makes the work of philanthropy challenging, rewarding, and inspiring altogether. Through the collaborations of past and current CivicAIM clients, the journey of purposeful giving is exactly that – a roadmap of anticipated milestones, twists, turns, and surprises of knowledge and relationships garnered, and collaborations earned with other social change agents along the way.
So in the spirit of defining New Year intentions, below is a list of thoughtful bellweather resources in the field of strategic and intentional philanthropy.
*Nerd Alert* Yes, I proudly display my true colors of regularly consuming, evaluating, and referencing these great works of thought and research on the philanthropic sector’s contributions, challenges and transitions!
- National Benchmark Survey of Family Foundations a collaborative report by The National Center for Family Philanthropy and the Urban Institute
- Threads: Insights from the Charitable Community published by Independent Sector
- Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2016 published by Foundation Center in partnership with Lucy Bernholz
May these guides inspire and enhance your intentions of purposeful giving.
Share your intentions and predictions. What philanthropic practices were you proud of in 2015? What are your giving aims for 2016?
On behalf of CivicAIM, I look forward to the privilege to support your grantmaking vision and witness the fruition of your philanthropy’s ideas and investments of supporting community. — Erica V. Ekwurzel