There is no question that the COVID-19 pandemic is having a disproportionate impact on communities of color. But this fact prompts a much more difficult question for nonprofit boards to consider in this moment: “What can boards do in the near-term to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the vulnerable communities their organizations serve?” Or, to put it another way: “How can nonprofit boards effectively prioritize equity in a moment like this?”

Although public awareness of COVID-19’s disproportionate impact has grown significantly in recent weeks, the alarming statistics bear repeating: according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), African Americans comprise 13 percent of the nation’s population and 33 percent of patients hospitalized with the illness nationwide. This development is largely the result of wide, persistent racial wealth and health gaps. On average, white families in the US have approximately 10 times the wealth of African American families and seven times the wealth of Latinx families; these wealth gaps create conditions that make African American and Latinx families less likely to seek out medical care because they do not have the option of missing work and income for extended periods while they recover.

BoardSource recognizes the enormity of the responsibility that sits on the shoulders of nonprofits and their boards in this moment. This is true for nonprofits providing direct services to vulnerable populations, but also for organizations that may be working on issues less directly connected to serving vulnerable populations, but are nonetheless attached to these communities through our broader societal ecosystem.

We also acknowledge that in order for boards to center equity effectively in this crisis, there are external considerations (i.e., programming, outreach, reputation) and internal considerations (i.e., staff issues, organizational culture) that they need to address. We invite all boards to consider where and how they can align decision-making with values at this critical time by reflecting on the following equity-focused questions.

Read the full article about board commitment to equity by Jim Taylor at BoardSource.