With our increasingly globalized and interconnected communities, nonprofits are expected to be as diverse as the communities they serve. Not only can this be challenging to implement for an organization that has long-time conducted ‘business as usual’ but also there are many parts of your organization that should be diverse and inclusive that you might not have considered before. The following are a few areas to review as well as a few resources that will help you conduct an internal diversity audit:
Board. Your board is the first place you should start as there will be a trickle down effect from there. We like to say that your board should reflect the community you serve and be from the community as well. Board Source has great resources as does the National Council of Nonprofits. If you need further incentive to review your Board’s diversity: many foundations are now taking this into account for funding decisions.
Clients/Service Recipients. While many nonprofits serve underrepresented minority populations, they can frequently assume that they’re offering services that are meaningful to diverse communities. Nonprofits should collect basic demographic data as optional information. Volunteers can conduct anonymous electronic surveys via Survey Monkey or Google Forms on a few select days to make the data collection process less cumbersome for staff.
Staff. Your human resources team should be well versed in diversity training and be charged with ensuring both new hires and current staff and volunteers are provided with the materials and resources they need. The Center for Nonprofit Management offers local training, Common Good Careers has produced a diversity report featuring statistics and change strategies, and Third Sector New England has a handy step-by-step guide for workplace diversity.
Culture. Keep in mind your organizational culture will dictate more than just the ‘feel’ of your nonprofit. Does your organization use ‘us’/’them’ language? Is it being mindful of neighborhood shifts that could change the racial make up of your community in the next several years? Do you offer translating services for clients who are not English proficient? (Google Translate on your phone is a great resource to equip your front line staff with.) The Denver Foundation’s Inclusiveness Project has valuable information and resource guides to evaluate and revive your nonprofit culture.
Keep in mind that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to diversity and inclusion, nor should this be a check-off annual task. Diversity and creating a nonprofit that values inclusiveness should be embedded in your service delivery, staffing, and management throughout the year.
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