“We are Working on Our Diversity”

  1. Up the equity lens and award expertise — If a nonprofit says 60% of whom they serve are communities of color, but less than 25% of their board and 0% of their executive staff reflect that, look elsewhere at organizations who are prioritizing Black and Brown staff and board leadership and development as much as their missions allude. Let’s be radical and say the percentage and staff and board to service reach should be equal.
  2. Stop Condoning “Columbusing” — Before you award that group that just started updating materials for Austin’s existing communities of color, just started translating materials, or recruiting and hiring diverse staff — reward others who have been operating like this all along. Does the nonprofit have anything in place to develop leadership amongst its staff of color? Latinitas does. Does their program’s price point really reflect the communities they say they are prioritizing? Latinitas would have been laughed out of its community charging $500-$600 for its summer STEM or filmmaking camps, $200 for a week of virtual camp or $1200 for a girls’ leadership development program. *These are the current rates for some of your existing fundees Austin womens’ giving circles.
  3. Get uncomfortable with necessary changes— I will be dead before you are diverse. I cannot wait for your membership to catch up with the need. Get guest reviewers with more familiarity with Austin’s marginalized communities. Overhaul and change your review systems to better serve Austin’s growing diversity. Talk to your Hispanic/Black/Asian/LBGTQI Chamber of Commerces and ask them who they see in nonprofit doing the work in their communities.
  4. “We fund one LatinX/Black/Asian/LBGTQIA organization already” — If I had a dollar every time I heard that from funding committees I wouldn’t need to write this. Funding just one LatinX/Black/Asian/LBGTQIA organization at a time does not cover the complexity of needs and identities of its entire population. It’s the organizational equivalent of “I’m not racist. I have one Black friend.”
  5. Trash existing strategies to diversify membership. They are not working: Your diversity recruitment is not the nonprofit’s job, but I have actually referred you to quite a few leadership of color development programs and professional groups. The New Philanthropists was founded to diversify boards. Hire them. Scaled membership fees would help diversify who is in your giving circle —have the courage to experience the discomfort of members who think these measures are “unfair” even though they facilitate equity. Rule of thumb: If your diversity efforts aren’t making someone uncomfortable - they are not working.
  6. Be honest and decide are you a philanthropic organization or are you a social club? We are in an unprecedented time where marginalized communities are being terrorized by a pandemic and an administration. If your process is more about members getting mimosas together, rethink this. Did you eliminate a grant category focused on culture that promoted inclusion but wasn’t popular? Austin’s communities of color led and focused nonprofits are counting on you to take the overwhelming needs of our city seriously.
  7. Stop creating more hoops — you can trust us. Communities of color led organizations have been over-serving Austin for decades. Are there ways around traditional gatekeepers such as audits or time-consuming applications to be inclusive of organizations working with less staff, serving more need?

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is the Founder and CEO of Latinitas, Austin’s only 100% bilingual STEM education nonprofit, exclusively in underfunded schools serving over 35,000 since 2002.

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Laura Donnelly

Laura Donnelly

is the Founder and CEO of Latinitas, Austin’s only 100% bilingual STEM education nonprofit, exclusively in underfunded schools serving over 35,000 since 2002.

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