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Advancing Race Equity at Your Nonprofit Organization

Nonprofit leaders know that creating a diverse, inclusive, and equitable workplace is critical for building effective organizations and for advancing their mission.  Research has shown that diverse organizations perform better—that diverse teams are more innovative, are more effective problem-solvers, and make better decisions.  A lack of diversity and inclusion can also put organizations at legal risk by fostering conditions for harassment and discrimination.

Nevertheless, people of color continue to be significantly underrepresented at the senior, executive, and board levels of nonprofit leadership, a situation that undermines the sector’s commitment to race equity and inclusion.  In light of recent crises affecting Black Americans, including ongoing instances of police brutality and the disparate impact of COVID-19 in Black communities, nonprofits face an even more urgent need to foreground race equity in both their substantive work and internal affairs.

Race Equity Resources for Nonprofit Organizations

  • ProInspire recently released its guide Crises as a Catalyst: A Call for Race Equity & Inclusive Leadership to help nonprofit leaders advance race equity and inclusion. The guide provides discussion questions, reflection prompts, practical tips, and additional resources organized around a range of equity-focused leadership practices.

  • A 2018 report by Equity in the Center, Awake to Woke to Work: Building a Race Equity Culture, provides a more comprehensive framework for making nonprofits “more committed, more knowledgeable, and more skilled in analyzing race, racism, and race equity, and in placing these issues at the forefront of organizational and operational strategy.”  The report outlines a “Race Equity Cycle” that nonprofits can move through in their journey to become more diverse, inclusive, and equity-driven organizations, along with seven strategic “levers”—including people, processes, and systems—that can be leveraged to build a race equity culture within organizations.

  • The Annie E. Casey foundation has created a Race, Equity, and Inclusion Action Guide entitled Embracing Equity: 7 Steps to Advance and Embed Race Equity and Inclusion Within Your Organization.

  • For organizations looking to update their governance documents to better foreground race equity principles, an article in the Nonprofit Law Blog discusses the topic of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Nonprofit Bylaws.

  • Race to Lead has a comprehensive report on Confronting the Nonprofit Racial Leadership Gap for nonprofit stakeholders seeking insights, data, and actionable steps related to recruiting and retaining people of color in nonprofit leadership positions.