Giving Compass’ Take:
• In a series on board development, Tamela Spicer discusses the powerful benefits of correcting the gross lack of diversity in nonprofit boardrooms.
• How could better representation in boardrooms benefit nonprofits themselves? How does your own giving reflect diversity in philanthropy?
• Learn about one method developed to construct more diverse organizations.
Whether it’s diversity of race/ethnicity, age, or socio-economic class, the nonprofit sector can no longer afford to excuse the lack of diversity in boardrooms. “It’s essential that board members understand they put their organizations at risk when they fail to diversify,” argues Arizona State University’s Elizabeth Castillo, “as this lack of cognitive diversity constrains effective decision-making” (Castillo, 2018, para. 8).
Christopher Fredette and Ruth Sessler Bernstein take this point deeper. The voices and experiences around the boardroom table will shape how an organization engages with community, they argue. It’s this increased community engagement that brings “greater familiarity with an organization’s constituents, which allows for a better understanding and incorporation of the needs and interests of diverse and traditionally marginalized community members…who would otherwise remain underserved” (Fredette & Sessler Bernstein, 2019, p. 936).
Take for example the “give, get, or get off” policy that is still held by over 40% of nonprofit organizations, with average annual giving expectations ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 (Larcker, Donatiello, Meehan, & Tayan, 2015). Nonprofits and communities should consider who might be excluded from the boardroom because of such policies. Recognizing that not all potential board members have the capacity to give at high levels or the networks to secure large gifts means that board recruitment must focus on equipping people to engage in meaningful fund development independent of their personal circumstances. Organizations must take on the responsibility of helping new board members expand their networks by engaging in relationships with existing organizational donors.
If the sector is going to effectively address the complex social issues in our communities, individual boards must be willing to move beyond simple collaboration and be willing to share power, leadership, and decision making.
Read the full article about the lack of diversity in nonprofit boardrooms by Tamela Spicer at Johnson Center.
Nonprofit Sector is a complex topic, and others found these selections from the Impact Giving archive from Giving Compass to be good resources.
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