Letter from the Director
We can’t believe that fall is here, and that we have been working remotely during the past six months. We are all watching closely as some campuses open for in-person classes, as others remain online. Mostly, we all share the hope that our students, staff, and faculty stay healthy. As development professionals, we are constantly watching how wealth and philanthropy evolves in the U.S. In the past few months, there has been an increased awareness in matters related to diversity and inclusion. The value of diversity and inclusion efforts have been increasingly emphasized in the fundraising community as well.
An article from The Chronicle of Philanthropy, “How to Appeal to Donors of Color: an Online Briefing,” is particularly informative to development professionals as it provides ideas from three experts on exploring ways for nonprofits to be more welcoming to people of color. The first recommendation is to build a diverse board and staff that enables donors of diverse backgrounds to see themselves in and connect with your organization. Secondly, “make the case for prioritizing diversity” at your organization. Individuals at all levels should be able to advocate for prioritizing diversity in an organization and “use language that resonates with their nonprofits’ leaders.” They should be able to communicate and help leadership understand about the advantage of advancing inclusion. Thirdly, collect data on your donors’ demographics by letting donors “self-identify.” However, this should be done in a sensitive manner and organizations should be clear about the use and intention of collecting this data. Fourthly, provide information on how your organization can create opportunities for people with diverse backgrounds and needs. Wealthy people who are self-made can empathize and relate to people of similar backgrounds and are likely to offer their support or help to create better opportunities for others. Lastly, it is important for organizations to “commit to racial justice.” This means that we should take account of what needs to be implemented to advance racial justice and commit to measuring progress regularly.
Most of us are already aware of the aforementioned recommendations, but this article is timely as diversity and inclusion have always been and continues to be an important part of the philanthropic community. This would also be a good time for development professionals to examine prospect portfolios and see how diverse they are. Take this opportunity to diversify prospect portfolios and reach out to engage donors of color. The utmost goal would be to identify constituents who care about higher education and engage them in various ways that would enable them to make an impact.
I hope you all of you are staying well and ready to embrace a new season. As always, please feel free to reach out us with questions, comments or any assistance with prospect research!
Sapna and USM Advancement Research Team
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