Dear Apra Community,
Like many of you, we in Apra leadership and staff have been watching and experiencing recent events, including the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, and the subsequent protests and social unrest across the globe, with sadness, horror, frustration, grief and anger.
This moment calls upon us to critically examine the ways in which our work directly or indirectly supports systems of oppression, and to actively and conscientiously work toward racial justice.
Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) are core values of Apra. This is not simply because we want Apra itself to be diverse and inclusive (we do), but because we recognize that it is an urgent priority to improve the state of diversity in philanthropy.
The aim of the philanthropic sector is to solve for issues not being adequately addressed by the government or for-profits. Our organizations are essential players in the fight for social justice. And nonprofits do critical work in advancing equity and providing resources and support for those in need.
However, across the sector, only a small percentage of philanthropic dollars are directed to communities of color. Donors of color are not well represented in many of our pipelines although they are known to be as philanthropic as white donors. Many nonprofits lack diversity in their staff and leadership.
For nonprofits to more effectively serve communities of color, we must ensure that people of color are included in the problem solving that takes place in our organizations, that they can work in close proximity to organization leaders, and that they have access to the networking and leadership opportunities afforded to white donors.
Apra has placed a deliberate focus on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. Our work in this area includes:
- The development of a Diversity and Inclusion Statement of Principles
- The inclusion of DEI as one of the four pillars of our strategic plan
- The implementation of a DEI Committee
- Consideration of diverse representation in the board nomination process
- Participation in Association Forum's Welcoming Environment survey
But our work so far is only the beginning. Apra is committed to including diversity, equity and inclusion content in our events. We will partner with organizations such as AFP and CASE to support and amplify their work in DEI. We will ensure that people of color have opportunities to speak at our events, to lead our committees, and to serve on our board. We will articulate the ways in which knowledge of diversity, equity and inclusion are essential to the daily work of our members.
If you are seeking ways to immediately harness your role to advance social justice, here are some ideas:
- Make diversity a core factor when identifying new prospects, developing event attendee lists and evaluating new potential board members for your organization.
- Develop a plan to ethically collect identity data within your database and to use this data to inform goals on donor diversity.
- Explore the ways in which bias is playing a role in the hiring processes of your organization. Suggest changes to job descriptions that encourage people of color to apply. Critically examine experience and degree requirements that might prevent people of color without nonprofit experience from applying. Post job listings in places where people of color will see them.
- Learn about DEI issues in philanthropy so that you can educate your colleagues. Books such as "Unicorns Unite: How Nonprofits and Foundations Can Build EPIC Partnerships," "Decolonizing Wealth: Indigenous Wisdom to Heal Divides and Restore Balance" and "Just Giving: Why Philanthropy Is Failing Democracy and How It Can Do Better" provide excellent context.
We welcome your thoughts and ideas on how to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in philanthropy and in Apra, and encourage you to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Together we can create a new world in which social and racial justice can exist.
Board Liaison to Apra's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee