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Holistic Diversity & Inclusion Strategies for Nonprofits in 2022

January is almost behind us regardless of how ready we felt to launch into 2022. With the continued realities and impact of COVID, most of us started the new year feeling like we are still freshly reeling from and navigating the impacts of 2021. This is definitely a strong reality for nonprofit organizations, who, at this point, are balancing both evaluating the impacts of their outcomes and operations in 2021, while also charting course for 2022. It’s a tall order, and yet, we keep moving forward.  

An undeniable theme will persist in shaping both nonprofit outcomes and operations: how diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) strategies are incorporated holistically and consistently across nonprofit organizations and the importance of intentionally centering racial equity caring and awareness are simply not enough and won’t move the needle forward on racial equity and wellbeing.

Why DEIB Initiatives Matter for Your Nonprofit

Strong doses of courage and learning mindsets are required as we continue to innovate practices and services to meet the varied needs and challenges our communities face. It’s Quarter 1 of a new year, which means it’s that time to both evaluate and launch 2022 programs and operations, folding in key lessons learned from our own work and those being highlighted sector-wide as current best practices. 

Across social and private sectors, a key learning outcome of the previous two years is the central role that diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) have as a lens through which to view, well, just about everything we’re doing in service to — and with — our communities. Intentionally fostering DEIB holistically, and across all our nonprofit’s elements as the organizational value that makes our mission possible, must be the guiding viewpoint embraced – from front desk volunteer to the board director.  

How DEIB Will Make Your Nonprofit Stronger

An organization that strengthens and increases DEIB stands to improve: 

  1. Fit between mission, services, and a truer representation of community 
  2. Organizational culture, connectedness, and increased staff retention 
  3. Innovation in programs and services 
  4. Funding — Increasingly funders are looking at the level of DEIB measures and impact as key funding considerations 
  5. Economic mobility and greater client wellbeing- the more DEIB is present within our organizations, the stronger the alignment is between our programs, services, and outcomes 

Increasing DEIB is also the right thing to do; our communities are not homogenous monoliths. We are a country and a people who came to be through diverse beginnings. Having diverse representation in our teams, boards, and clients ensures our mission is helping achieve greater, holistic community wellbeing.  

In America 2021: The opportunity to advance racial equity, McKinsey & Company reported that: “Community institutions shape outcomes for Black residents, and the failure to close systemic gaps in community institutions will further damage economic mobility.  Only by actively starting with a race-conscious approach at the foundation, can we begin to stifle the impact of rising inequality and damaging social disparities. Nonprofit organizations are one of communities’ greatest shaping institutions- Focusing on racial equity within our operations and mission embeddedness is key.  

Understanding the Realties of DEIB & Nonprofits

The multifaceted presence and role of DEIB as a central one across all industries – private, public, and philanthropic — is no longer a ‘side item.’ Increasing our nonprofit organization’s DEIB internally and within boards of directors must be a key goal in 2022 as well as the how goals and outcomes are equitably achieved.  

How can we have an increase in equitable impact if our internal teams aren’t well, equitably representative of our communities? DEIB disaggregated data tells the story of who isn’t at the table (as often or as equitably) as the needs require and who is overrepresented. We have to start with honest internal dialogue, which includes measurement and data. (Hint: More to come on strategies for how to listen and learn from one another, and how to examine, analyze, and increase your DEIB efforts holistically across your nonprofit organizational workplace.) 

Centering on our own nonprofit organizational data and the narratives the data tells is a key starting place to launch our DEIB work and inform our strategies for carrying this out in a way that is informative and achievable. Courageous and 21st century leadership requires mining our own data and moving beyond the numbers, be committed DEIB equity advocates through action and getting started where we are

What subgroups within your community and those served by your organization have unique challenges and how does outlining these varied unique needs across different groups help further focus strategies with limited funding? The data shows that BIPOC individuals and whole communities are the most negatively impacted by lacking inclusion. Disaggregating data does not have to be a cumbersome process – the important thing is to start analyzing the story of your organization’s work by diving into your data. Start identifying different data points that will, in time, provide a more accurate picture of your organization’s equity efforts, growth, and outcomes. 

Ensuring DEIB Conversations Happen

The truth is, whether we acknowledge or recognize it, that any nonprofit organization is influenced across the board by the presence or absence of DEIB. There is a dizzying amount of material on all things related to DEIB out there, and it is overwhelming to think that we have to tackle every element at once while running impactful programs, communications, and fundraising. Which is why we are going to break it down and make it manageable for you as you move forward into 2022 and beyond. 

From learning to listen to sitting through the painful discomfort of uncovering our biases, setting the pathway to a diverse and representative board to deepening internal knowledge and analysis around key aspects of effective nonprofit daily practice centering DEIB – we’ve got you covered. It’s time to ensure we’re moving beyond diversity statements with actions. 

We’ll be helping guide the establishment of your intentional DEIB efforts organization-wide while providing actionable steps to establish some best practices, regardless of the size of your team. DEIB is not only for larger organizations, for those with big budgets, or only for those in urban areas. It is for organizations of any size looking to understand the story your organization’s data and culture tells- it’s for those ready to move beyond ‘the talk of greater DEIB’ and actively implementing relevant, practical, and achievable mindsets and practices – it’s for those who know they need to– and are ready — to embark on stronger internal DEIB alignment.   

From nonprofit boards of directors to your mission and values, the programs carrying out the mission, to the staff that supports, uplifts and advocates for the communities and issues within your wheelhouse, we have the insights, practices, and tools that are relevant and actionable to start your year strong through a lens of DEIB.  

Published: January 31, 2022

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