Whole Community Fundraising: Let's Redefine Diversity in Nonprofits Today!
Diversity is Power
Let’s talk about whole community fundraising. Never heard that term? Well, that’s because its only used in the Grassroots fundraising community. I was thinking of approaching the subject of Diversity in the nonprofit world in a very tangible way any nonprofit leader can understand: Fundraising and Revenue.
As you might know, the nonprofit world has a historic issue with diversity. I want to propose that we think of “full diversity “. Yep, I just coined another term! Well, you’ll see we need it. Most nonprofit professionals think only of staff when you say “diversity “. Some will include Board diversity but very few include donor diversity. For me “Full Diversity” is Board, Staff, and Donors.
Right now, 90% of nonprofit Boards and 85% of executive directors/CEO’s are white. Donor diversity looks pretty bad too. 73% of nonprofit donors are white, 8% African American, 11% Latino, 5% Asian.
So, who cares? If your nonprofit is fundraising in any town in the US that is diverse, especially with diverse wealth. Then you are simply leaving money on the table. You’re not engaging the whole community of philanthropic people.
For example, I can show you dozens of nonprofits in Los Angeles that have no Latino/a Board and few Senior Staff, they do nothing to reach out to the Latino community as donors which are 47 % of the community! Why?! In the case of Latinos, we are commonly seen as victims and not as a vital asset. The organization probably doesn’t know how to reach out to engage Latino philanthropy. Few do in the US today. A few are doing this intelligently and raising millions.
The massive growth in Latino middle class and millionaires is not something most are aware of. But studies have shown the number one factor amongst several for why many minorities aren’t giving as much is that they aren’t asked. Intentionality is vital.
Most nonprofit leadership as I have shown simply go with the circles and people they know. They simply aren’t part of the Latino or African American community, add in some implicit bias and you have a self-perpetuating situation where nonprofits don’t look like their communities. This is incredibly important because if you’re not well connected to your community how can you serve it? And you’re missing entire populations when it comes to fundraising. Too many nonprofits are led by, supported by a minority of the community! It’s simple logic to say that if you effectively fundraised from your whole community it will make your organization stronger and raise more money.
So all this makes sense I hope. But for 20 years white nonprofit leaders have heard about the need to diversify. They agree, maybe talk about it at a Board meeting but little is done.
My consultancy is now helping nonprofits take action on this desire, not just talk about it. I have heard again and again from nonprofit leaders that they knew for years their Board, Staff, and Donors looked nothing like their community but nobody was telling them exactly what to do about it!
They could get consultants to tell them it was a problem but taking actionable steps was another thing. It reminds me of those popular ghost TV shows where people come to your house and set up all this equipment so they can tell you, you have a demonic spirit in your house but not what to do about it.
So I think there are three-factors that you need to achieve to help your nonprofit work with and raise money from the whole community.
1. Diversity is power, it’s not about guilt or being politically correct. I think part of the problem is for the last 20 years nonprofit leaders been the subject of a lot of finger pointing and guilt. It hasn’t worked. When nonprofit leaders toss the old reasons for diversity and embrace it as finding the true power for their organization the narrative will change. Understand that you can engage your entire community, all colors, all wealth levels, all genders. When you do that you will truly be in the community, truly be raising the most money you can raise.
2. Let’s talk about what to do, not just that it’s a problem. Of course, I cannot give away trade secrets but safe to say that Full Diversity at Board, Staff and Donor levels are very feasible in most instances. Also little known is that the three types of nonprofit diversity effect each other. When I implement a Diversity plan I start with the Board. It's simply easier to hire diverse staff when you have a diverse Board. And your diverse Board and Staff will help guide your efforts to raise money and create diverse donors. It’s a set.
3. Finally, the third factor here is courage. For a white dominant leadership to do the work to identify, recruit and create a safe atmosphere for diversity is crucial. That’s courageous. To be able to say out loud “we need to work hard on diversity” and then do it takes guts. Many institutions never have this.
Let me also say that diversity is one of those issues that always seems like a low priority in the short term thinking that effects many nonprofits. It can end up on the backburner a lot. We should think of full diversity as a strategic priority and start with action on the first level. That is the Board in my mind.
Communities across the country are changing and in 10 years many will be minority/majority.
Also, let challenge nonprofit fundraisers see women in a new light. The hyper-focus on the rich white man has marginalized many successful philanthropic women. Even women married to wealthy men are often forced to play back seat driver because the institution acts like the philanthropic relationship is led by the man. Even more marginalized are women of color in this formula.
So, the challenge is clear. Adapt and grow. Otherwise, your organization will gradually become out of touch and ineffective. Empower your whole community by asking them for financial support. Many people of color could be empowered with philanthropy. Have the courage to look out of your own circles and find new ones. If you have development staff ask them to do research for you on local communities, leaders and wealth.
But be that person who will no longer tolerate the status quo! If you’d like to talk about my Philanthropic Diversity Consulting services check out my website. http://www.armandozumaya.com/diversity-consulting-services.html