To Attract Talented Fundraisers of Color, Get Your House in Order
The first step toward hiring and retaining more fundraisers of color is to infuse your nonprofit with a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion from top to bottom, experts say, and share your organization’s values with job seekers so they can decide if your nonprofit’s values align with their own.
Three nonprofit leaders share this advice and more in the online briefing, Hiring More Fundraisers of Color. They explain how to build a powerhouse fundraising shop that can connect with donors of today and tomorrow. The discussion, hosted by Margie Fleming Glennon, director of learning and editorial products at the Chronicle, featured:
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The first step toward hiring and retaining more fundraisers of color is to infuse your nonprofit with a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion from top to bottom, experts say, and share your organization’s values with job seekers so they can decide if your nonprofit’s values align with their own.
Three nonprofit leaders share this advice and more in the online briefing Hiring More Fundraisers of Color. They explain how to build a powerhouse fundraising shop that can connect with donors of today and tomorrow. The discussion, hosted by Margie Fleming Glennon, director of learning and editorial products at the Chronicle, featured:
- Angelique Grant, senior consultant and principal at the Inclusion Firm
- Peter A. Hayashida, president of the University of California Riverside Foundation; and Vice Chancellor, Advancement at University of California, Riverside
- Tycely Williams, chief development officer, Bipartisan Policy Center
A focus on DEI is the right thing to do, but it’s also the best way to ensure long-term growth for your organization, say the panelists. Here are other ways to advance DEI and attract more talented fundraisers of color.
Incorporate DEI into your core values.
The commitment must be genuine, not just box-checking, says Grant. She cautions against “commoditizing” DEI, casting it as just another thing that your workplace offers. It must be a core part of all you do.
“The world does not need any more performative DEI. We’ve got plenty of that going on right now,” adds Hayashida.
Hayashida urges leaders to begin “talking about DEI early and often, but not gratuitously. You don’t just bring it up randomly, but you actually frame it in the context of the goals your organization is trying to achieve. Why does it matter and what is our responsibility to advance this agenda? How does this help us individually, and how does it help us collectively?”
Referring to the push for racial equity since the murder of George Floyd, Hayashida added, “We can’t afford to be making decisions that are not in touch with the world around us. We will lose relevance, we will lose credibility, and we will ultimately lose funding.”
Assess your organization’s culture, then monitor your efforts.
Attracting talented fundraisers requires an inclusive culture and environment in which everyone feels welcome and supported.
“Diversity doesn’t just happen,” says Hayashida. “It requires intention, and it requires some perseverance. It requires strategy.” It also requires an honest assessment of your organization’s strengths and weaknesses when it comes to DEI.
Improving your nonprofit’s culture will make your organization a beacon for the kinds of candidates you want to hire, the panelists say. “The culture of your organization always determines your success,” says Grant.
“Nobody should feel like they’re standing on the sidelines,” says Hayashida. “Leaders need to be direct, specific, and persuasive in expressing their commitment to DEI — a deep, profound actionable commitment.
Williams added, “When you’re seeking to hire fundraisers of color, it is very important to have a constructive culture where difference is viewed as a value-add.”
Broaden your organization’s network.
Too many nonprofits engage in what Grant calls “posting and praying” — that is, posting job openings in all the usual places and hoping for the best.
Hayashida says he looks at lots of nontraditional venues to find fundraisers — for example, community-based organizations, financial-services firms, and lawyers looking for a career change. “If we keep hiring people out of the same pool, we’re going to keep getting the same result,” says Hayashida.
Recruitment is an ongoing, never-ending activity, the panelists say. If you’re nurturing the right connections even when you’re not actively hiring, finding the right person will be much easier when you have an opening, they say. One way to do that is to spend time at similar nonprofits’ events and attend conferences.
“Develop authentic partnerships with organizations as well as influencers and their networks, and try not to be transactional in those relationships,” says Grant. “It’s the same approach that we would take to fundraising.”
Evaluate procedures to prevent bias.
Consider how you screen resumes, says Williams. What criteria are used? Do you black out names, she asks, “which can sometimes be an indication of someone’s culture or heritage”?
Look for candidates who may not meet every requirement of the job description but have a lot of potential, says Williams. Create opportunities for people “to elevate and learn,” she adds.
People look for new jobs because they want to apply their skills, but they’re also looking for opportunities to grow, says Williams.
Hayashida advises hiring managers to expand the number and range of people who interview job seekers. He joked that the “death by 1,000 interviews” approach can frustrate job applicants, but it reduces the potential for bias in hiring.
Share your organizational values — and salary ranges — with job candidates.
Let prospective employees know what kind of an organization you’re trying to build.
“I like to articulate those values in advance when people join my organization so that they can make informed choices about whether we’re the right place for them to be professionally,” says Hayashida. “In our case, it’s excellence, integrity, accountability, respect, and collaboration.”
If a job candidate doesn’t share your organization’s values, they’ll move on — and you won’t get stuck with someone working against your goals.
Post the salary for job openings, or at least a salary range, the panelists advise. People worry they may lose candidates by posting a salary, but the opposite is often the case; not posting a salary is more likely to cost you applications.
Hiding salaries can be a means for covering up and perpetuating inequities.
“Because I identify as a black woman, over the last 24 years, I know, through my own lived experience what happens to candidates of color when the salary is not shown,” Williams says. “When you show the salary, the pay increases by 13 percent for Blacks and 8 percent for women.”
It’s a myth that you can’t recruit diverse candidates to communities and organizations that currently lack diversity, the panelists say. “People are looking for great opportunities to grow, regardless of where you’re located,” says Grant. “Don’t go in with the thinking that you’re defeated from the beginning.” Stick with an intentional strategy tied to what your organization is trying to achieve — and be patient, says Hayashida.
Provide ongoing support to new employees.
Orientation is often thought of as a checklist of steps new employees must go through. Employers should aim for the longer-term process of “onboarding” that includes educating new hires about your organization’s traditions, values, and goals, says Grant.
When new employees arrive, they should be asked what they need to help them succeed. In some cases, it becomes an opportunity for a person to discuss a disability that may call for an accommodation that will benefit everyone, says Grant. It also could reveal an area where a candidate feels additional support or training is needed.
Ongoing support for new hires takes time, but it will improve their performance, and it can be a big factor in reducing turnover and boosting retention, the panelists say.