By Suzi Elzie-Tuttle, MLIS, University of California, Berkeley
Before I begin, I want to cover a few abbreviations. For the purpose of this piece, I’m going to be using the first (DEI) and imply that it is an umbrella term which includes the following abbreviations below:
- DEI = diversity, equity and inclusion
- DEIB = diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging
- DEIA = diversity, equity, inclusion and access
DEIJ = diversity, equity, inclusion and justice
Many of us in prospect development have found ourselves swept up in long-overdue conversations about DEI and concerted DEI efforts over the past year, specifically around racial diversity. Maybe we are at organizations that are thinking about having these conversations but don’t know where to start. Some of us may even be individuals who want to have such conversations, but our organization has no interest or doesn’t have the resources to hire a consultant and needs to do things in-house.
I recently had a conversation with many folks who work in various roles in fundraising and a recurring phrase I heard was, “We want to be more diverse but we haven’t been given the tools.” While I frequently joke, “Google is free!”, I know that the amount of information, especially around discussions on race and implementing DEI efforts at an organization, can be majorly overwhelming. With that knowledge, I want to offer a small, curated list of resources to assist you in initial DEI education and efforts around race at your organization.
Prior to jumping into the resources, there are a few things I would like to acknowledge and that are good to keep in mind. First, if you feel you’re way behind in having these conversations, you are not alone. What is important is that you start. One of James Baldwin's most famous quotes is, "Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced." So many organizations are just beginning and we're all learning together.
I also want to mention that listening, learning and “culture changes” are great, but they are not to be confused with actions and policies. It’s important to not center whiteness in these conversations and efforts, while also not forcing staff members of color to do all the emotional and intellectual labor. This is a great time to learn when to step up and when to step back.
Finally, DEI doesn’t have an end goal. Truly, DEI is the lens through which we should view all of our work. As you learn more, it’s important to think about what you want DEI to look like in your work, on your team and at your organization.
1. “So You Want to Talk About Race,” by Ijeoma Oluo
This book is helpful for those who are new to talking about race. I sincerely appreciate Oluo’s tone, which is more hand-holding than harsh. I think one of the most important things she does is give you permission to mess up. None of us are perfect when it comes to talking about race and it’s even harder when it’s in a super-charged moment or interaction. It will answer most of your questions on how to speak up for yourself, for colleagues and for loved ones. She gives plenty of footnotes and has done her due diligence. While the subject is heavy, Oluo puts it in language that is easy to understand.
2. The National Museum of African American History and Culture’s “Talking About Race” Website
The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) has a phenomenal website on talking about race. It is very user-friendly and there are a number of ways to approach the site such as by topic (e.g., being anti-racist, bias, community building, race and racial identity, systems of oppression and more) or audience (e.g., parents, educators or a person committed to equity). One of the best parts is the resource database, which is searchable and houses over a hundred resources from links to videos.
3. “It’s Time to Talk” Webinar From Joy-Raising
Tesha McCord Poe is the founder and CEO of Joy-Raising, where she offers consultation in viewing philanthropy with a DEI focus. In this webinar from the summer of 2020, she explores some definitions of terms such as “anti-racist” and “privilege.” She also presents some areas where organizations may have things in place that may not be anti-racist but need improvements, such as stewardship and cultivation practices. What I found most helpful is her vision for what an anti-racist philanthropy program may look like and some suggestions of specific actions we can take to move toward a more equitable environment.
4. The Accountability Principles Toolkit Created by Puget Sound Cohort in Partnership With Race Forward
The Accountability Principles created by Puget Sound Cohort in partnership with Race Forward is a 33-page “toolkit to assist organizations in self-identifying their current level of accountability, with concrete next steps to deepen the practice of holding themselves and partner organizations accountable in a way that advances racial equity.” This is a resource to come to after there has been a lot of learning done and your team and/or organization is ready to move forward with actionable items toward racial equity. The toolkit not only provides ways to assess your organization but also ways to improve the scores of your assessment in the future.
Apra is committed to ensuring that our association lives the values of diversity, equity and inclusion espoused in our Diversity and Inclusion Statement of Principles and delivers on the objectives set forward in the Diversity and Inclusion pillar of our 2019-2021 Strategic Plan.
Learn more about the author on the Connections Thought Leadership Page.