As you go through the tasks in this topic, you will decide what facts to gather in each of three areas: your community, your field, and your organization.
This information can help you realize what you are doing well, illuminate areas for improvement, and establish a mechanism to learn from others about their successes and challenges.
These facts also can help you create benchmarks for your organization against which to measure its future progress.
Note: If you are worried that staff are too busy to spend time collecting the data, consider other resources that may be available to assist. For example, graduate students - particularly from nonprofit or related degree programs - are often looking for engaging projects for their coursework. You may also have volunteers who would be excited by the opportunity to engage in an interesting research project such as this. You may even find that board members with time on their hands will want to get involved in this effort and volunteer to help gather information for the inclusiveness initiative.
For example, let's suppose that in the information-gathering process you learn that your community is 15 percent Latino, but only 5 percent of your constituents are Latino. You may then ask yourself if these rates are appropriate, and strive to find the causes of this disparity. As a result, you may develop mechanisms to increase awareness among Latinos about the services your organization provides. If you want to assess your progress in achieving your goals in five years, you will compare your progress against your current benchmark. If in five years you discover that 10 percent of your constituents are Latino, you will know you have made progress, and you can use the new data to inform future efforts.
It is important to determine what information is a high priority to gather and what information you will gather only if you have time and other resources. When deciding whether a type of information is a high priority, consider whether or not the information you need is easily available. If information is not easily available, you might consider making a plan to collect those facts in the future as part of your inclusiveness blueprint.
For example, if you hope to acquire information on best practices within your field, but no one (such as a nonprofit association) has ever compiled such information, it may not be realistic for you to collect that particular type of data. However, you may decide to include a plan in your blueprint to encourage a nonprofit association of which you are a member to collect such data.
Furthermore, as you're making tough decisions about what type of information to gather, when in doubt, collect information that is important, not just interesting.
For example, if your organization is a children's museum, it may be interesting to know the extent to which senior citizens access your services, but it may not be important to your inclusiveness initiative. If you're not sure how to decide whether something is important and not just interesting, ask yourself, "Would the work of the organization change depending on the outcome of the research findings?"
The exercises will help you decide which facts are important to your inclusiveness initiative. Complete Defining Community; Selecting Facts to Collect About Your Community; Defining Your Field; Selecting Facts to Collect About Your Field; and Selecting Facts to Collect About Your Organization.
Then decide which sources to use to get the information you want and then assign people from within your organization to collect the information by completing Community Fact-Gathering Work Plan; Field Fact-Gathering Work Plan; and Organizational Fact-Gathering Work Plan.
Inclusiveness work in a nonprofit organization can encompass many - and all - areas of an organization. But in order to be realistic and effective, it is recommended that an organization choose between two and four areas on which to focus their work at any point in time. The materials on this website are designed to help you select those focus areas.
I believe in Liberty for all men: the space to stretch their arms and their souls.
W. E. B. Du Bois