Raising money in today's diverse communities is a growing challenge for fundraisers. Success requires innovative strategies, successful collaborations, and a respectful understanding of people's differences.
Our recent webinar with Robin Fowler, M.Ed., CFRE, Senior Associate, The Offord Group, Inc., explored the impact of diversity on the behavior of charities, fundraisers and on philanthropy as a whole. Robin discussed how to incorporate and embrace diversity to enhance fundraising results for Canadian charities.
What do we mean when we say "Diversity"?
The Association of Fundraising Professionals' definition of diversity is "the seeking and achieving of a broad representation of experiences, perspectives, opinions and cultures. Inclusiveness is an essential source of vitality and strength for the effective pursuit of an organization's mission."
What should the non-profits be aware of when it comes to diversity?
One of the most important things, according to Robin, is to ensure diversity is embedded in the long term philosophy and goals of the organization. It may start from the top but also has to go from the bottom and throughout the organization. Diversity has various dimensions beyond just the visible diversity.
What are some of the implications for organizations that are not thinking about diversity and are not moving in that direction?
Robin notes that it's risky for an organization to ignore diversity today. The statistics show that diversity in Canada is going only to increase over the next number of years. If the organization doesn't represent the population, it loses credibility and relevance which, of course, will reflect on the budget.
What are some of the benefits of having diverse staff, volunteers and board members?
Diversity is one of the best ways not only to take an organization to the next level in terms of raising funds but also to increase community outreach, credibility and relevance. Reaching out to more and more different kinds of people promotes relevance. Communicating to those different groups is going to be one of the greatest challenges as you'll need to figure out how to appeal to and engage those people.
Do you have any tips on how to start becoming more diverse as an organization?
The first and the key step for an organization is to sit down and brainstorm: how could we be diverse? How are we diverse? Where might we go? What might be some of the goals we should look at? Put all your thoughts on a piece of paper without any judgment. "I think that's a really good starting point to bring a good cross section of people together, both internally and externally, and really brainstorm". That's where the diversity starts, ensuring everyone's opinion is valued, respected and included. You can go on from there and develop a strategy and then measure and report back on that, ensure that things are moving forward and not backward or not staying stagnant.