AFP New Mexico Chapter: Inclusion Diversity Equity and Access
The principles of inclusion, diversity, equity and access (IDEA) are a key component of AFP’s strategic plan and daily efforts as we work to make the fundraising profession a more just, fair and equitable profession. Chapters play a critical role in advancing IDEA, and we are pleased to highlight the efforts of the New Mexico Chapter as it works on creating a more inclusive, diverse and valuable experience for its board and members.
Around this time last year, our AFP Chapter (AFP New Mexico) lost seven board members within the previous six months, including members of the Executive Committee.
On the surface, such an exodus seems shocking. The truth is that the mass departures were symptoms of much deeper problems within the organization. While various reasons were cited for leaving, the majority of members who resigned were young people of color, recently recruited to the board.
One year prior, in August 2018, our board received feedback after one of our programs that directly and succinctly pointed out racism, microaggressions and exclusionary behavior within our chapter. This feedback also highlighted how programming was catered to meet the needs of an older white audience rather than seeking out current research and trends in philanthropy and called on the board to undergo anti-racism training.
This was not the first time such observations had been made. This time, however, we took the important step of recognizing that we needed to do something in response. The steps we took over the next year were a combination of missteps and progress. However, true, significant, long-lasting change didn’t start until we formally engaged the help of an independent consultant to guide the board through the 'messy' work of openly addressing our challenges. This consultant, Kendra Toth of RACED, engages clients interested in exploring the impact of racial whiteness and how systems of oppression and privilege impact their lives – both personally and professionally – through a personalized, problem solving approach.
Near the end of September 2019, we sent a message to our members and others on our listserv that read, in part, as follows:
In our first two sessions with Kendra, we, as the AFP-NM board, committed to build trust, authentically engage in diversity, equity and inclusion work, and establish both strong leadership and communication. We committed to transform AFP-NM, through this work, into an organization that is relevant, makes a place at the table for all voices, is a place where those voices are heard and valued, and is a model for our state.
It became clear that we can no longer adhere to "normal" procedure or "business as usual" if we are to transform AFP-NM into an organization that acts within a consciously chosen set of norms and standards. Operating in a culture that is not inclusive harms both those it excludes as well as those it celebrates. We recognize and regret the hurt we have caused to ourselves and others, and we wish to change.
We strongly encourage you to click on THIS LINK, an article by Kenneth Jones and Tema Okun, to further explore -- and identify for yourself -- how AFP-NM has been operating within this damaging framework.
We recognize both the urgency associated with these efforts and that this transformation will take time. To be sure, the foundation work of building trust is not 'quick' or simple task. We hope that this message is a first step toward the rebuilding of some of that trust.
We also recognize that we will not ourselves determine whether or not our organization's transformative efforts are achieving success. An authentic shift in our chapter's culture, membership, programming, and practices can only be determined a success by those who have been dismissed, diminished, marginalized, and ignored. Many of these voices have been speaking up for some time now; we regret that it has taken a crisis to finally listen and act.
During the past year, we have engaged in the following:
- Continued our sessions with our facilitator, conducted outside our regularly-scheduled board meetings;
- Established four flourishing Affinity Groups, led by non-board member volunteers, for fundraisers who identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color), those working in rural areas, and both ‘emerging’ and ‘seasoned’ fundraisers;
- Offered well-attended online programs, including Transgender 101, Creating Culturally Inclusive Strategies & Messaging, White Fragility, Journeys of Race and Class, and Deconstructing Ableism. (All programs have qualified for CFRE credits.) Coming up next are a special session, A Safe Space for BIPOC Fundraisers, and a facilitated book discussion on Edgar Villanueva’s Decolonizing Wealth;
- Maintained our program income while having changed the payment model to “pay-what-you-can” and donating half the proceeds to BIPOC-led and -serving organizations as selected by the presenter(s); and
- Begun conversations with our board on formally incorporating the approach of the Community-Centric Fundraising movement.
Our board has a significant amount of work to do in pursuit of a future as a more inclusive and equitable AFP Chapter. Our board is still majority white-identifying. We have yet to examine the entirety of our policies and procedures and we remain quite Albuquerque-centric. However, we acknowledge that this work is ongoing – lifelong, in fact – and we are most grateful to the voices who offered the honest feedback that prompted change.
AFP NM, New Mexico Chapter