The Inclusive Fundraiser: start with yourself first

I’ve noticed that when a lot of non-profits are thinking about diversity, inclusion and fundraising, the first place they look is outside their organization.

Where can we find more diverse donors?

How can we tap into different communities of supporters?

What fundraising vehicles should we use to appeal to a more diverse audience?

This common approach has it backwards.

If you’re going to be a more inclusive fundraiser at a more inclusive and diverse organization, there’s one place you need to look first…

In the mirror.

If you want to be a more inclusive fundraiser, you need to start with yourself first.

There's one thing that many people find challenging, and it's likely something you’ll wrestle with in your journey to becoming a more inclusive fundraiser.

That's identifying and dealing with your own implicit biases.

Implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner.

They can cause us to have feelings and attitudes about other people based on characteristics like race, ethnicity, age, gender, religion, social class, sexuality, disability status, or nationality.

These implicit associations develop over the course of our lifetime, starting at a very young age, and they shape our judgments about people’s character, abilities, and potential.

Left unaddressed, implicit bias affects everything from who gets selected for which roles at your organization (hello pale, male and stale boards!), to how you interact with your donors and co-workers, to who gets more air time in meetings.

Don’t be ashamed, we all have ‘em!

A good place to start is to begin exploring and understanding some of your own implicit biases.

Psychologists at Harvard, the University of Virginia and the University of Washington have developed a great tool called the Implicit Association Test.

The Implict Association Test (IAT) is a free, online test that was developed to measure attitudes and beliefs that people may be unwilling or unable to report.

So, why don’t you go take a few tests, and let’s meet back here next week, when we’ll talk about how to begin addressing implicit bias in ourselves.

P.S. Be courageous when you choose your tests!

There are a number of different IATs you can take, so be sure you don’t avoid those that make you feel most uncomfortable – that could be a sign that’s an area of implicit bias you need to work on.

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