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Creating an Open-Hearted Space for Conversations

Resource Center - Foundation

by Beth Ann Locke and Jen Love

Thank you, AFP, for giving us a voice here. We are both passionate supporters of our sector and share your commitment to the advancement of fundraisers and the remarkable and important causes we champion.

One thing we love most about fundraisers is our shared and constant curiosity. We admire and respect the fundraisers among us who embrace a "forever learning" approach to our craft and our careers. And it’s in this spirit that we share our thoughts and perspectives on issues of fundraising and equity.

Conversation is the starting point for change

We want to start by sharing some tools you can use to create conversations about your experiences and perspectives on equity, privilege and diversity. Every one of us can move the needle on equity in our sector.

Some of you may be asking yourself these questions for the very first time. That’s amazing! And if so, as you’re reading, ask yourself, “What are solutions within me and immediately around me?” For others who may already be having these open conversations, that’s amazing, too! We’d love to hear from you about how you create space for these crucial open-hearted conversations in your work and career.

We believe there are three solid ways we can all engage in open-hearted conversations to move change forward: awareness, reflection and action.


Look at your own organization and make yourself aware of the positions of power within your organization (directors, CEOs, board executive and board members). How do they fall along the continuum of gender, race, and ability? How are your personal values reflected in your organization when it comes to diversity and inclusion?


  • Reflect on your own privilege. Start from where you stand today. Everyone can move this conversation forward, beginning with our own internal reflections. Acknowledge the earned and unearned privilege in our sector and in our world. If you haven’t seen this Buzzfeed video on privilege it’s worth watching.
  • Reflect on the privilege in your organization. Start a conversation with someone in your organization, or in your professional network, about your reflections on privilege. Your lived experience matters. Our shared experiences matter. Find colleagues around you who are open to talking about fundraising and equity. If you can’t think of anyone, be brave and reach out to us. Our email addresses are included below. We are having these conversations with each other, in our communities and online. We would love to hear your experience.
  • Reflect on your professional development. Do you read blogs and books from only the dominant culture? What other sources and resources might you look for to broaden your scope of knowledge and understanding?


  1. Consider asking to add “Discussion: Fundraising and Equity” to the next AFP Chapter or workplace meeting agenda. Invite an open conversation that reflects on experiences and ideas around creating space for equity, diversity and inclusion. Start the conversation from an open-hearted space.
  2. Connect with the diversity and inclusion work already underway within the AFP and your community.
  3. Choose "emotional intelligence." We intend to champion emotional intelligence as a way forward for every single person in our sector. If emotional intelligence is new to you, this is a great starting place.

We’re here to have these conversations with you. We want to hear what you’re doing within you, your circle and your career. And we’ll be sharing more perspectives and conversations on emotional intelligence in our sector soon. If you have anything to add—and you do—please share your voice.

Finally, we’ll leave you with this simple, beautiful image to illustrate equity in action.

equity image ewire

Contact us, Beth Ann Locke. and Jen Love,

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