Inclusiveness Initiative

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Asking Constituents for Suggestions

One way to develop new strategies for creating more inclusive programs and attracting a more diverse constituency to your organization is to ask your constituents for suggestions. Constituents often have great ideas that the staff and board haven't thought of, particularly when an organization's board and staff are not yet very diverse. You can develop formal and informal mechanisms to engage constituents.

For example, organize a fun gathering with constituents for the express purpose of asking them for input.

Creating a Programs/Constituents Advisory Board

An advisory board dedicated to developing inclusive programs and diverse constituencies may be useful. However, in many organizations, staff members feel a great deal of ownership regarding the design and implementation of programs. As such, they often resist outside input regarding their programs and may be reluctant to create an advisory board for this reason. Yet programming is the core work of organizations and is a useful arena in which to receive input.

Finding a Mentor

Many individuals and organizations have already developed effective strategies to create inclusive programs and diverse constituents. You may be fortunate enough to be able to take advantage of their wisdom and experience. Try to find an individual or organization, preferably from within your field, willing to serve as a role model for you.

Approaches to Program Design

Research completed by The Denver Foundation in 2003 found that nonprofit organizations generally tend to design programs using three different approaches to reach their constituents. (Pease, Katherine & Associates, Inside Inclusiveness: Race, Ethnicity, and Nonprofit Organizations. The Denver Foundation, July, 2003)

One Size Fits All
Programs are developed for an organization's traditional client base without consideration of the needs of diverse populations. 

Tracking and Evaluating How Constituents Use Your Programs

If you're not already doing so, you may want to begin tracking who uses your programs/services as well as tracking information on the quality of programs/services provided to people of different racial/ethnic backgrounds. This may require developing a more sophisticated tracking system than you currently have.

Defining Your Target Population

 

Organizations need to be clear about their target populations and know the demographics of their constituencies in comparison to the larger community.

For example, a target population could be all of the people in an organization's local community, everyone in the state, or people living at or below the poverty level within a given community.

Membership Development Strategies to Reach Communities of Color

According to Rotary International, one of the world's largest membership organizations, there are three stages to membership development: recruitment, retention, and expansion. Consider the needs and interests of communities of color in each of these stages. (www.rotary.org/membership/development/)

Fundraising Strategies to Reach Communities of Color

 

As you expand your current fundraising strategies to reach communities of color, consider making adjustments to each step of the fundraising process.

Why Inclusive Fundraising Practices Matter

Despite well-known shifts in demographics in the United States, most fundraising practices in mainstream organizations still target the "traditional" donor: wealthy, older, and white. Many fundraisers do not attempt to raise money from communities of color - even if they may spend much of their time serving such communities through their programs.

Engaging the support of communities of color is important for three main reasons:

Why Inclusive Membership Development Practices Matter

If your organization operates on a membership basis, then the demographic changes described above apply directly to your membership development efforts. Membership-based organizations fall into two main categories: those who invite anyone to become a member and those who seek members from a particular profession, group, or segment of the community.

If your organization has an open membership, then the broad demographic changes in the population apply to your potential membership base.