Diversity & Inclusion: Yawn or Yes?

Carolyn Caldwell listens to new fundraising friends she met at AFP’s Diversity & Inclusion session. On left is Tasha Booker, City Year Columbus VP & ED. On right is Kari Roll of Delta Gamma Fraternity.

The Central Ohio chapter of Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) is lucky enough to have an active Diversity & Inclusion committee. Although this committee is small (4 people) and newly formed (less than a year), with Steve Miller’s leadership, they pulled together a top-notch program for their AFP chapter.

Last week the Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) committee sponsored a really thought-provoking workshop and lecture by Cecile Keith Brown, held at the King Arts Complex. A pre-session survey showed Cecile that the gathering she would be presenting to did not have good representation from diverse groups within their organizations. Cecile was a dynamic speaker for the crowd of over 100 fundraising professionals, representing large and small organizations focused on everything from health and human services, to arts and culture, and everything in between.

Cecile spoke on the benefits of diversity within our organizations, and made a good point that our key leadership, staff, boards, and volunteers should more closely reflect our constituents.

The way Cecile brought home the point about the benefits of diversity surprised me. Simple, yet effective. She pointed out that when we are faced with a problem, we become myopic. We get so close to the issue that we can’t see our way out of it. If everyone around us is of the same cultural and economic background, the chances of the whole group becoming myopic are even greater.

Diversity in our non-profits helps the myopia problem. If we have different lenses to examine our problems and issues through, we stand a much better chance of seeing a way out of, or around, them.

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