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First Steps in a Diversity Effort - Part Two

September 8, 2014

Read: Starting a Diversity Effort—Part One

Catherine Connolly, CFRE, serves as treasurer on the AFP International board and is the chair of the AFP Sacramento chapter’s newly developed Diversity Committee. Hoping to inspire other AFP chapters, organizations and communities to broaden their diversity efforts, Catherine will be taking us along on her journey towards chartering and implementing a diversity committee. Join us as she changes the face of fundraising in her community—and tells you how to do it in yours!

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And they are baby steps. We are making progress, though more slowly than I had thought or wanted. 

I had written earlier about our initial efforts to start a diversity effort for our AFP chapter in Sacramento. In the meantime, we have had one official meeting, we’ve shared notes and comments on the discussion, and we’re trying to schedule our next meeting as a conference call to allow more people to participate.

It was challenging to find a time to meet, since everyone interested in this topic is very busy, and our schedules never seemed to align well. Originally, I was disappointed that there were only four of us who could attend this meeting, but it actually turned out quite well.  With a small group, we could really dig into lots of topics, and we ended up with a long list of ideas and issues for the larger group to consider. So, moral of the story is: don’t get discouraged by the lack of participation—a little bit goes a long way. 

We discussed the various reasons that people (of all types) don’t come to AFP meetings and the hurdles they have to deal with. From not knowing we exist, to not seeing a familiar face in the room, to the expense (in both time and finances)—the issues weren’t hard to uncover and articulate.

We delved into what money and philanthropy mean in various ethnic communities. One woman working for a nonprofit that serves Native American populations shared that her title does not mention fundraising at all since her community isn’t comfortable with that role, but those are the tasks listed in her job description. 

We talked about how to reach out to different communities. In the end, we had a good list of people to contact and groups who could help spread the word about AFP.

One of the best parts wasn’t planned, but we each ended up sharing why we value AFP. I found it inspiring to have a room of very different people so committed to our professional association and so interested to share it with others. 

In the end, the group consensus was that we needed to make the chapter’s current, existing monthly luncheon more appealing and approachable. We don’t need something new, we need to take what is already strong and make it better. I was rather surprised with this conclusion, but it made the best sense for our group’s focus and next steps. 

Lessons and Take-Aways: 

  • I believe it’s important not to have too many expectations of specific outcomes. When I was recruiting the committee, people wanted to know what this was all about and wanted to have details. It was challenging to meet that need while also acknowledging that we were going to figure it out and adjust along the way. 
  • Continue the outreach process. I’ve had people get back to me far after I had figured they weren’t interested. Just as other volunteer situations, keep the door open and ready for the next conversation. 
  • Once again, it’s a matter of “just do it.” It has not always been the smoothest process, but it is a process of just taking each step and building on the last.  And we must celebrate each step for the accomplishment that it is. 

Stay tuned as Catherine and her newly established Diversity committee continues to grow and develop their efforts in diversity for the entire community!

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