What’s the big IDEA?

Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access

For years, the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) has promoted the importance of diversity and inclusion in the nonprofit sector. In 2017 AFP also prioritized equity and access, creating the IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access) initiative. At the 2018 AFP International Conference, IDEA was introduced, and this year it emerged as an even greater focus.

Inclusion, diversity, equity and access are in the news every day because our society is grappling with these issues in business, education, faith communities, the entertainment industry and yes, in nonprofits. Without a doubt, there are nonprofit professionals, volunteers, board members and donors whose careers, community service opportunities, and lives have been impacted by a lack of inclusion, diversity, equity and/or access within the powerful work of the nonprofit sector. Consider these statistics:

According to AFP, gender accounts for a 10 percent difference in salary among fundraising professionals.

The BoardSource Leading With Intent 2017 survey found that 27 percent of all organizations that participated have zero people of color on their boards.

In April 2018, The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported results of an online Harris Poll study; 25% of female fundraisers and 7% of male fundraisers have experienced sexual harassment in their careers.

In a study of diversity in giving in 2015, The Blackbaud Institute found that African Americans and Hispanics are underrepresented among donors. They are also solicited for gifts less frequently than other groups. They are also likely to give more if asked more often.

During the drive back to Fort Worth following the AFP International Conference (ICON) in April, two M.Gale colleagues and I talked about the sessions we attended. We discussed IDEA and its application at M.Gale, in the communities we serve and in our local AFP chapter. Then our entire team discussed IDEA with our clients and M.Gale in mind. If you aren’t aware, we should point out that M.Gale is an all-white, all-female company. We have work to do in terms of diversity. Most organizations do, even the ones you might not expect.

In one ICON session I attended, leaders from two national organizations talked openly about grappling with issues of diversity and inclusion. I was surprised that they have lots of work to do in this area, too. These organizations are studying the promotion rates of staff members of color, having mandatory anti-bias training, empowering staff to nominate individuals for board service and including more employees in decision making processes about workplace culture. One of the organizations instituted a board “give or get” policy to make the board more accessible for former clients who may not have the means to make large gifts. Another is intentionally adding persons of color and lesbian and gay board members after lacking diversity for decades.

Sometimes the implementation of a big IDEA begins with something simple — a conversation or gesture. At the ICON registration desk, there was a sign that said, “We care about your pronouns.” Stickers were available for name badges so that people could share their gender identity with others. I was struck by this gesture that for many conference attendees surely meant a great deal.

In our own organizations, how can we learn, listen, discuss and implement change with respect to the principles of IDEA one gesture or one conversation at a time? Sweeping change is sometimes appropriate, but change usually happens slowly. M.Gale is here to support you as you explore the big and small changes you’d like to make.

Karen Perry, CFRE