Putting Diversity Values Into Action Requires Funding

By Jay Hirschton, CEO, Full Circle Fund



Like many of you, I’ve noticed several businesses and nonprofits expressing support for Black History Month in the past few days. Sometimes it takes the form of reaffirming an organization’s commitment to diversity values as we saw during the social justice protests last summer. Beyond public declarations, I often wonder what groups are actually doing to advance diversity, equity and belonging (DEB) in the workplace--and beyond.


In general, diversity is bringing together a variety of opinions, perspectives and lived experiences informed by such factors as race, gender, gender identity, religion, physical ability, sexual orientation and more. Equity ensures everyone has access to the same opportunities such as professional development or advancement. Belonging creates a culture where everyone feels welcomed and valued.


At Full Circle Fund, we have been and continue to assess our diversity, equity, and belonging efforts as part of our commitment to constantly improve. This includes reviewing our staff and board composition for diverse learned and lived experiences. We are also looking at our grant making process, committee composition, and due diligence to reach a variety of organizations who represent the communities they are serving. The assessment will also review the composition of our volunteer membership, nonprofit partners, and strategic partners who represent the communities they are serving for equity and inclusion.


In addition, we are currently redesigning our “Power and Privilege” training for members who collaborate with grant partners to address the power dynamics that exist in traditional relationships between grant maker and grant recipient. This training is mandatory for all our members and one of our most popular initiatives where members have brought knowledge gained back to their own workplaces and in their personal lives.

We are investing in this work because we know it will help us become a stronger organization by creating a culture of belonging for all diverse backgrounds, delivering better programs to our communities, and help to get more resources directed back into nonprofits and the communities they serve. But most nonprofits, including FCF, need financial support to do this work. As we embarked on this journey, we were surprised to learn there are a limited number of funding sources for capacity building related to organizational DEB.


The philanthropic community--businesses and foundations--need to support nonprofits with funding specifically designated to help nonprofits tackle the often complex issues of DEB. At a time when local nonprofits are experiencing an increased demand for services, especially from those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, operationalizing DEB values can not be viewed as a “nice but not necessary” option for funders who support capacity building.


Black history is America’s history. Applying DEB values in daily practice not only benefits the Black community but all marginalized communities who have historically been under-represented in nonprofit organizations. Declaring a commitment to diversity for a month must be followed by funding organizational DEB efforts in the nonprofit sector. Now is our opportunity to write new chapters of how we collectively implemented systematic change to meet this moment in American history.


To learn more about how to get involved with FCF as a nonprofit, business or individual, click here.


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