Racial Injustice: 4 Immediate Ways for Nonprofits to Take Meaningful Action

Jun 11, 2020Leadership

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Racial Injustice: How can you effect change against racial injustice as a nonprofit leader?

The innocent and senseless killing of George Floyd (and countless others known and unknown) has once again brought attention to racial injustice in our country. 

Clearly, the black community is hurting, and their safety continues to be threatened.

We can change the trajectory of our society. 

No doubt, we can do our part to see a more just and equitable society.

In your leadership position at your nonprofit, think deeply about how to use your power of influence to effect change.

No matter our racial, political, religious, or other identities, we must do our part. 

As Desmond Tutu reminds us, “If you are neutral in the situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” 

Institute Change to Racial Injustice, No Matter Your Title

Undoubtedly, the implications from this recent and horrific killing reach far beyond the conventional initiatives of establishing policies at our nonprofit organizations.

As a fundraiser, you may fear speaking up when a donor alienates a person of color, speaks with demeaning words, or lacks compassion for the wronged.

As a fundraiser, you may have a board that lacks diversity and has no intention of changing the makeup to be more diverse.

And yes, as a fundraiser, you may have colleagues who show little empathy toward the inequities that continue to plague our workplaces and societies.

No matter your title — CEO, executive director, development director, development coordinator — you have the power to make systemic changes at your organization.

You must do your part.

Dr. Martin Luther King reminds us: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” 

Let's not be silent.

Three Ways to Remove Racial Injustice at Your Nonprofit

Moreover, here are three ways you, as a nonprofit leader, can move the needle on inequities, injustices, prejudges, and biases at your organization:

1. Influence Agendas

You have the power to influence agendas in staff meetings, board meetings, retreats, seminars, conferences, and conventions.

Nevertheless, we often overlook the little things we can do – like influencing agendas –  that influence systemic change at our organizations.


2. Have Difficult Conversations about Racial Injustice

Others are watching you as a leader to view how you handle a difficult situation or circumstance. 

Certainly, think before you respond and react to situations. Be gentle but also hit situations head-on.

Critically consider the words you use and implications in your next steps to be supporting those who don’t feel they have a voice because they are seen as different.

Above all, do not stay silent.

3. Take Meaningful Action Against Racial Injustice

Most importantly, step up. Here’s are four ways:

A. Recognize that people of color are hurting and are fearful when we once again hear of these unthinkable killings.

First and foremost, encourage and allow employees and colleagues at your work to have open and supported conversations about what is happening now in our society.

B. Seek support from your human resources team or outside help.

If you lack internal human resource support, seek experts such as consultants, speakers, or advisors.

Absolutely, allow donors to step up and provide the funds to offer training on issues of diversity and inclusion.

They will if you ask!

C. Educate yourself.

In addition, do research and read as many articles as you can on racial injustice and discrimination in the workplace.

Do this to better understand the challenges and complexities of racism and implement tested solutions.

Furthermore, share your articles and encourage conversations at the start of your virtual meetings and (soon to be) in the halls at work and the water coolers.


D. Consider partners.

When reviewing relationships with funders (corporates, foundations, or individuals) consider their acknowledgment and commitment to the fight against racism and inequities.

In fact, look for commitment statements on their websites, and applaud them for taking a stand.

Words of understanding and encouragement are of great value, but your actions have a much greater impact. 



I struggled to write this blog . . . . to use the right words.  I’m not black and have never feared for my life from an injustice.

Even so, I choose not the side of the oppressor and will not stand silent.

I have a platform – a weekly vlog, quarterly course teachings, Facebook lives, program chair of two community organizations, and I have a choice in the words I use and the actions taken daily.

What is your platform?

We all have one.


Other Articles

Reads on fundraising during the current crisis:

4 Reasons you Can Secure Large Gifts Without Being Face-to-Face

Nonprofits Seeking Big Funding in Crisis: A New Set of Rules

What Nonprofits Need Right Now: 5 Ways to Help

Why You Must Ramp up Donor Communications Now

5 Steps to Donor Thank-You Calls: Show You Care During a Crisis

The Coronavirus Threat to Fundraising

Nancy Rieves, Ed.D. is a fundraising coach. She provides executive and development directors with a roadmap to maximize and sustain major gift fundraising. She prepares leaders to be confident and successful in raising money. Reach her at nancy@nancyrieves.com.


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