Research & Reports

Why Diversity and Inclusion Are Critical to Fundraising Success

Leadership and Teams: Boards and Volunteers
Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, & Access (IDEA): Diversity and Inclusion (IDEA)
Current & Prospect Donor Research Strategies: Prospect Research, Research Reports
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Fundraising leaders can no longer secure the fundraising revenue that their organizations require without building and retaining diverse boards, executive teams, and advancement teams and developing fundraising programs that engage all potential donors.

In collaboration with the Association of Healthcare Philanthropy, Aspen Leadership Group (ALG) has released a new whitepaper that introduces research, breaks down assumptions that impede progress, and outlines proactive strategies to help advancement leaders across all sectors address diversity and inclusion at their organizations and make real change.

In Diversity and Inclusion in Healthcare Advancement: Changing Behaviors and Outcomes, ALG authors Angelique S.C. Grant, Ph.D., and Ron Schiller note that diverse teams have more understanding, experience, and perspective upon which to draw, allowing them to be more creative about reaching more donors and engaging them more deeply. They can draw upon a wider range of personal and professional experiences to identify more readily with a larger universe of donors and potential donors and to add broader perspective to all engagement strategies.

The authors also draw on recent research to demonstrate that false assumptions related to diverse donors, established approaches to fundraising, and the diverse talent in the advancement profession are destructively self-perpetuating. The advancement profession, like most professions, needs continued creative thinking about building pipelines of diverse talent. A variety of barriers—many unconsciously self-imposed—make identification and recruitment of diverse professionals a challenge for many leaders.

Nonprofit leaders are reluctant to accept that their organizations are falling short in the area of workplace diversity. Equipped with knowledge, nonprofit professionals and volunteers need to engage in courageous conversations about why diversity is essential to fundraising success, how biases— many of them unconscious—create barriers to progress, and how change in the composition and behavior of leaders is so important to sustaining improvement in diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The paper outlines eight strategies for success in talent development and management that will work toward creating sustainable change within an organization. The following are just a few of the suggestions:

1. Define diversity, equity, and inclusion for your organization, and specifically for advancement.
Establish an organizational diversity, equity, and inclusion statement if one does not exist; update it if it does. Create a statement for advancement that addresses the entire community of volunteers and donors, as appropriate. A clear, shared understanding of what the organization means in using these words is an important factor in taking action and measuring progress.

2. Devote resources to diversity.
Devote people and operating budget dollars to training, onboarding and retention programs, professional development, partnerships with consultants and associations focused on diversity, and other actions that demonstrate commitment to diversity and change behaviors in sustainable ways.

3. Train hiring managers and hold recruiters to the same standard
Implicit bias is just that – we all have it, and in many cases, we are not aware. All search committees need to be trained in implicit bias with recruiters who train their search consultants as well. Avoid using the term “right fit” and articulate clearly the knowledge, skills, and ability needed for each position and candidate.

4. Pay careful attention to job descriptions, requirements, and postings
Include diverse-candidate-friendly, inclusive language throughout the position description, in addition to including your diversity, equity, and inclusion statement. Explain why diversity is important to your organization and how the organization has made diversity and inclusion a priority. Talk about diversity goals and objectives, so candidates can understand and make you aware of ways in which they might contribute to progress toward these goals.

5. Measure
Establish measurable diversity goals, then track progress. Start with simple, clear, sustainable, and achievable goals, and build from there. Without intentionality and consensus, colleagues will fall back on excuses, and wins will be short-lived.

Embracing diversity, achieving equity, and being inclusive are essential to success in advancement. Those with courage to face their biases and embrace and lead change will engage more constituents and raise more money.

Read the full white paper to learn more.

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