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Outreach and “Inreach”

April 3, 2006

(April 2, 2006) Starting as early as 2008, baby boomers, who currently make up 60 percent of the “prime-age workforce” will start retiring—a trend that will last 20 years. This will create a projected labor shortage of 10 million workers in the United States. Furthermore, the majority of the retiring baby boomers will be white males, but the majority of people entering the workforce will not. By 2012, one out of every three workers in the United States will be nonwhite, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Think what this will mean for your fundraising strategies, the make-up of your organization and your organization’s future donors.

Al Vivian, president and CEO of Basic Diversity Inc. (www.basicdiversity.com), a full-service cultural diversity training and consulting firm based in Fayetteville, Ga., discussed the implications and solutions to the changing demographics in the United States during the Diversity Workshop, sponsored by The Alford Group. Basic is best known for The Race Awareness Workshop, which has been evaluated as the most effective race-relations seminar in the country. It was the first program to be the sole feature for two consecutive days on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

The interactive and fast-paced session explored the following:

  • What is diversity?

Consider this: When you hear the expression “All-American family,” what image comes to mind? “Diversity is far more encompassing than race and gender,” Vivian explained. “It is a combination of all the things that make us individuals. Our experiences determine who we are, but our experiences are almost always affected by how others view our visible diversity.”

  • Diversity and giving

At the same time, what comes to mind if you think of the “average donor”? Are you limiting the communities you reach out to in your fundraising? If so, you are missing important opportunities.

  • Representation

Boards tend to have very diverse missions, but minimally diverse representation, Vivian pointed out. “Charitable boards tend to be good at ‘outreach,’ but not so good at ‘inreach,’ he said. “Boards often talk about wanting to be diverse, but they rarely look at why they are not diverse.”

What are ways to increase representation on your board? Vivian offered the following:

  1. Have an honest dialogue
  2. Analyze the question, “Why aren’t we diverse?”
  3. Make a true commitment to diversity
  4. Demonstrate that commitment by integrating diversity into your organization’s mission, strategic plans and policies
  5. Measure improvement
  6. Increase networks in diverse communities
  • How to challenge discriminators. Vivian also explored discrimination and offered a 10-step method to challenge racism, sexism and other “isms.”
  1. State your opinion first. Keep it short.
  2. Get an agreement on the general philosophical level. Go for the first “yes.”
  3. State the crisis: What is the problem caused by the words or behavior.
  4. Project the crisis—how soon will there be a crisis?
  5. Keep cool. Do not let the situation escalate into an argument.
  6. Leave them thinking.
  7. Schedule another time to get together. Always reinforce the relationship.
  8. Use a person’s value system to make a relevant point or comparison.
  9. Try a role reversal.
  10. Start small—not with the most difficult people. You will get better every time you practice.

In conclusion, Vivian offered identity developmental models that illustrate the natural development of people’s self-identity based on the cultural group to which they belong. The models also show how people view their own cultural group in comparison to another group. He offered a set of models for the majority or dominant group and a set for the minority or nondominant group.

Before the start of the workshop, the Georgia Tech Jazz Ensemble provided entertainment, much to the delight of attendees in the Georgia World Congress Center.

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