Home / Word Soup: Achieving “impact” starts with how you define it

Archive For: Nonprofit Trends

Word Soup: Achieving “impact” starts with how you define it

Perhaps the best way to capture community impact is to measure against the goal(s) of the person, organization or partners who choose to act. They may support or deliver programs intended to expand mental health services, increase access to safe and affordable housing or increase participation in the arts. Results, however, are influenced by other factors such as reliable transportation, job opportunities and child care. With this level of complexity, we strive to view community impact as a coordinated effort in which multiple partners come together to define expectations, integrate services and measure progress with the full set of participant needs in mind...which leads us to the next term.

Read more →

 

Creating a More Inclusive Environment at Your Nonprofit: Ethnicity

In March, The Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia gathered alumni of its Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program (ENLP) and current members of its 10th class at the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia.   Jonathan Zur, President and CEO of Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities led the group through a robust discussion and brainstorming session on ways local organizations and leaders can take action to create a culture of diversity and inclusion in their nonprofit organizations and across the sector.

In a recent blog post, we shared that diversity is the presence of difference generally related to one’s identity and might include ability status, age, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status or other factors that make a person unique.  Inclusion is the accepting, respecting, and valuing of this diversity.  Working to achieve diversity and inclusion in the workplace should be a fundamental part of fulfilling the mission of any nonprofit. It creates an environment of involvement and connection and allows for the richness of ideas, backgrounds and perspectives to be harnessed to create value for the organization, clients and the community.

To begin moving towards active inclusion in the workplace, nonprofit leaders must 1) examine their own lens to have a deeper understanding of their perspectives and perceptions to create a framework for approaching and addressing their own bias – whether that be conscious or unconscious.  Nonprofit leaders must 2) ask and encourage tough questions to create deeper dialogue within their organization, especially with staff who come from different backgrounds than them.  This will allow the leader to develop a clearer understanding of how experiences affect work styles, behavior, communications, and relationships and eventually form an atmosphere of greater trust.  Nonprofit leaders must 3) acknowledge institutional bias, which are the practices, policies, structures and traditions that push some people up and others down based solely on identity. It’s important leaders realize that institutional bias may exist in their own organization causing barriers towards inclusion and ultimately, equity and justice.

Local Barriers and Suggestions for Interventions

What are some of the barriers that organizations, leaders and staff create in local nonprofit organizations that prevent diversity and inclusion (in both the workplace itself and with clients and the community)? What are actions steps that they can take to intervene and overcome these barriers, leading to a more inclusive nonprofit environment?  The Emerging Nonprofit Leaders group analyzed several different “Identities” in relation to their own organization and below are the findings.  This week we focus on one of nine identities – “Ethnicity”.  In later posts, we will focus in on the others – gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status or other factors that make a person unique.  Make sure to read our previous posts on Ability Status and Age.

 

Ethnicity

A main discussion from the group was around the difference between ethnicity and race.  Often, the words are used interchangeably but the two words do have separate meanings.  According to the World Atlas, race is the word used to describe the physical characteristics of a person and might include everything from skin color to eye color and facial structure to hair color. Ethnicity, on the other hand, is the word used to describe the cultural identity of a person. These identities can include language, religion, nationality, ancestry, dress, and customs.

Regarding ethnicity (we will discuss race in another segment) the group mentioned several barriers that they’ve observed in their workplace.  One well-known barrier in the nonprofit sector is under-representation of ethnic and cultural diversity on nonprofit boards.  The participants observed that many organizations that serve low-income communities that are often ethnically diverse have few board members from diverse backgrounds.  They extended this notion to upper-level management as well.  This makes serving and understanding the communities being served much more difficult.  One specific barrier related to this is a language barrier from those providing the services and those receiving them in the local nonprofit sector.

Another common occurrence is the lack of individual donors from diverse cultural backgrounds.  Nationally, this is true, as well.  According to Blackbaud’s latest “Diversity in Giving Study” nearly three-fourths of donors today are non-Hispanic whites, even though whites make up only 64 percent of the population. Conversely the study finds that both African-Americans and Hispanics are underrepresented in the donor universe. Asian donor participation appears congruent with the Asian population size.  The study goes on to say that the under-representation of African-Americans and Hispanics suggests that organized philanthropy is not doing an adequate job of engaging non-white communities. For instance, African-American and Hispanic donors say they are solicited less frequently.  Furthermore, they suggest they would give more if they were asked more often.  The group agreed that understanding the differences in giving traditions in various cultures and creating engagement strategies accordingly would help to make the individual support base for their organizations more diverse.

The participants went on to express the importance of their organizations becoming very intentional in making all aspects of their organization more ethnically diverse.  This strategically could include training (that’s mandatory!) within their organizations to build cultural competency, professional development and looking at outside resources that might be available.

Regarding attracting more diverse talent, the group said that the organization should intentionally recruit for ethnic diversity within all levels of the organization as well as the board. Bridgespan has some tips on recruiting ethnically diverse staff and in an earlier post on D&I Jonathan Zur gives some examples of best practices for recruitment.  Here are some practical tips from Blue Avocado for recruiting for board diversity.  Board Source has a ton of great tools like this Diversity and Inclusion Assessment.  The Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities also has a training coming up on June 14th through their Workforce Inclusion Network (WIN) on “Measuring Diversity and Inclusion Efforts” that can help you get started.

Read more →

 

Creating An Inclusive Environment at Your Nonprofit: Age

In March, The Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia gathered alumni of its Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program (ENLP) and current members of its 10th class at the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia.   Jonathan Zur, President and CEO of Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities led the group through a robust discussion and brainstorming session on ways local organizations and leaders can take action to create a culture of diversity and inclusion in their nonprofit organizations and across the sector.

In a recent blog post, we shared that diversity is the presence of difference generally related to one’s identity and might include ability status, age, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status or other factors that make a person unique.  Inclusion is the accepting, respecting, and valuing of this diversity.  Working to achieve diversity and inclusion in the workplace should be a fundamental part of fulfilling the mission of any nonprofit. It creates an environment of involvement and connection and allows for the richness of ideas, backgrounds and perspectives to be harnessed to create value for the organization, clients and the community.

To begin moving towards active inclusion in the workplace, nonprofit leaders must 1) examine their own lens to have a deeper understanding of their perspectives and perceptions to create a framework for approaching and addressing their own bias – whether that be conscious or unconscious.  Nonprofit leaders must 2) ask and encourage tough questions to create deeper dialogue within their organization, especially with staff who come from different backgrounds than them.  This will allow the leader to develop a clearer understanding of how experiences affect work styles, behavior, communications, and relationships and eventually form an atmosphere of greater trust.  Nonprofit leaders must 3) acknowledge institutional bias, which are the practices, policies, structures and traditions that push some people up and others down based solely on identity. It’s important leaders realize that institutional bias may exist in their own organization causing barriers towards inclusion and ultimately, equity and justice.

 

Local Barriers and Suggestions for Interventions

What are some of the barriers that organizations, leaders and staff create in local nonprofit organizations that prevent diversity and inclusion (in both the workplace itself and with clients and the community)? What are actions steps that they can take to intervene and overcome these barriers, leading to a more inclusive nonprofit environment?  The Emerging Nonprofit Leaders group analyzed several different “Identities” in relation to their own organization and below are the findings.  This week we focus on one of nine identities – “Age”.  In later posts, we will focus in on the others – ethnicity, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status or other factors that make a person unique.  Make sure to read our previous post on Ability Status.

Age

Ageism is the stereotyping or discrimination of a person or group of people because of their age.  Typically, ageism refers to older individuals but more recently, the definition has broadened to include “any prejudice or discrimination against or in favor of any age group.”

Local nonprofit leaders saw a few patterns and occurrences in the workplace – particularly relating to ageism perceptions and the negative implications they can have.   The group discovered that individuals are often grouped into categories related to interests and abilities based on age.  For example, younger staff were considered more tech savvy, while older staff were thought to be uninterested in technology and not willing to learn.

Other occurrences included assumptions and perceptions based on age related to one’s viewpoints, work styles and work ethics.  Younger participants reported having issues with their perspectives not being valued or taken seriously, as well as having a perceived “lack of experience” and not being given the opportunity to give input or perform.  Older participants reported that their perspectives were considered outdated, and therefore not valued, as well as feeling discriminated against in the hiring process – with assumptions being made that “an organization can’t afford to hire me”.

A recent article in Profiles in Diversity Journal confirmed many of these sentiments saying, “Within each generation is a relatively benign but present ageist view on the surrounding generations. Boomers think Millennials are careless and, although educated, only educated topically; they can do their jobs, but take away their computers and they won’t have a clue, unlike Boomers and Generation X. Millennials tend to think of Boomers and Generation X as behind the times as well as technology-resistant and inept. What all generations need to understand is that that everyone benefits from generational diversity in the workplace.”

The group had many great ideas on interventions to overcome some of these barriers to move towards generational diversity and inclusion in the workplace.  One of the most important tactics is education against stereotypes in the workplace.  Another suggestion is to create occasions (facilitated or not) for intergenerational conversation topics, or go a step further and create intentional intergenerational project teams.  Read this article by the Nonprofit Times on 8 Steps to Creating an Age Diverse Culture for tips to get started.

Other ideas included creating opportunities like mentorships and/or internships to promote intergenerational interaction and relationship building.  The Young Nonprofit Professionals Network RVA (YNPN RVA) has tips for mentors and mentees for Building Relationships, and this article by Next Avenue explains the concept of “Reverse Mentorships” where an older worker might seek out guidance from a much younger worker.  If you’re looking for advice for creating an internship, you can check out ConnectVA’s many articles on related topics, as well as our “Connect to Students” page which shares contact information from each local school/department for finding interns.

Read more →

 

Creating a More Inclusive Environment at Your Nonprofit: Barriers and Interventions for Ability Status

In March, The Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia gathered alumni of its Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program (ENLP) and current members of its 10th class at the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia.   Jonathan Zur, President and CEO of Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities led the group through a robust discussion and brainstorming session on ways local organizations and leaders can take action to create a culture of diversity and inclusion (D&I) in their nonprofit organizations and across the sector.

In a recent blog post, we shared that diversity is the presence of difference generally related to one’s identity and might include ability status, age, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status or other factors that make a person unique.  Inclusion is the accepting, respecting, and valuing of this diversity.  Working to achieve diversity and inclusion in the workplace should be a fundamental part of fulfilling the mission of any nonprofit. It creates an environment of involvement and connection and allows for the richness of ideas, backgrounds and perspectives to be harnessed to create value for the organization, clients and the community.

To begin moving towards active inclusion in the workplace, nonprofit leaders must 1) examine their own lens to have a deeper understanding of their perspectives and perceptions to create a framework for approaching and addressing their own bias – whether that be conscious or unconscious.  Nonprofit leaders must 2) ask and encourage tough questions to create deeper dialogue within their organization, especially with staff who come from different backgrounds than them.  This will allow the leader to develop a clearer understanding of how experiences affect work styles, behavior, communications, and relationships and eventually form an atmosphere of greater trust.  Nonprofit leaders must 3) acknowledge institutional bias, which are the practices, policies, structures and traditions that push some people up and others down based solely on identity. It’s important leaders realize that institutional bias may exist in their own organization causing barriers towards inclusion and ultimately, equity and justice.

 

Local Barriers and Suggestions for Interventions

What are some of the barriers that organizations, leaders and staff create in local nonprofit organizations that prevent diversity and inclusion (in both the workplace itself and with clients and the community)? What are actions steps that they can take to intervene and overcome these barriers, leading to a more inclusive nonprofit environment?  The Emerging Nonprofit Leaders group analyzed several different “Identities” in relation to their own organization and below are the findings.  This week we focus on one of nine identities – Ability Status.  In later posts, we will focus in on the others – age, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status or other factors that make a person unique.  

Ability Status

Individuals with disabilities are often stigmatized, encountering attitudinal and physical barriers both in work and in daily life. Although federal legislation (i.e. The Americans With Disabilities Act) protects the inherent rights of individuals with disabilities, that legislation can’t always protect them from subtle forms of discrimination and prejudice. Some disabilities are more obvious but some may be hidden, known as invisible disability. There are many types of disabilities, including those that affect a person’s vision, hearing, thinking, learning, movement, mental health, communicating etc.

During the D&I session, participants reported a lack of physical accessibility in their workplace where there are no elevators, ramps or accessible restrooms.  They also mentioned the importance of considering the building and space accessibility when choosing an office location – for both staff and clients.  If you’re wondering if your older building is ADA Compliant, read this helpful article.   The nonprofit leaders also mentioned how physically demanding their roles often are, and they imagine that this could hinder someone with restrictions.  A common thread throughout the discussion was related to funding and support from grant makers.  To make physical organization changes, funding might be required, so grant makers need to be included in this conversation as well.

The participants reiterated that hiring practices within their organizations need to be adapted to accommodate individuals of all abilities, and policies must be established to address situations that might arise.  In general, there is a need for the organization and human resources to be more aware of legislation, as well as resources and assistance available to nonprofits to move them towards being proactive in this regard.  Furthermore, nonprofit leaders must cultivate an environment where staff feel comfortable asking for what they need or for help, particularly when it comes to mental health concerns.

The Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) is a valuable resource that offers services to employers to help with recruiting, screening, training and retention efforts. Additionally, Virginia Business Leadership Network is a business-to-business (B2B) association focused on increasing workforce and marketplace diversity through the inclusion of individuals with disabilities.  They offer training and toolkits that include information like the Job Accommodation Network that provides free, expert, and confidential guidance on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues.

This summer, the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities (VCIC) is a hosting a session on “Including People with Disabilities” during their Workplace Inclusion Network (WIN).  WIN is a convening of professionals who support or lead diversity and inclusion efforts within their organizations. These gatherings provide a unique opportunity for D&I leaders to hear from experts in the field and share best practices with one another while networking with professionals from across the region.

Stay tuned for more findings on D&I in local nonprofits in the upcoming weeks!

Read more →

 

Creating a More Inclusive Environment at Your Nonprofit: An Introduction

In March, The Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia gathered alumni of its Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program (ENLP) and current members of its 10th class at the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia. Jonathan Zur, President and CEO of Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities led the group through a robust discussion and brainstorming session on ways local organizations and leaders can take action to create a culture of inclusion in their nonprofit organizations and across the sector.

Read more →

 

Nonprofit Trends: Challenges for Young Nonprofit Professionals in RVA

In mid-January, The Community Foundations serving Richmond and Central Virginia brought together two of their nonprofit networks – YNPN RVA (Young Nonprofit Professionals Network RVA) and ENLP Alumni (Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program Alumni) for breakfast, information-sharing and discussion at Peter Paul Development Center. For those who aren’t familiar - YNPN RVA (the local chapter of the National organization/network) supports the growth, learning, and development of young and early-career nonprofit professionals through professional development, networking, and social opportunities (learn more about YNPN RVA here). The Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program, now in its 10th year of operation, is a dynamic eight-month experience for budding nonprofit leaders in the metro Richmond area. Participants have the opportunity to foster a deeper understanding of their leadership capacity, advance their understanding and practice of leading in the nonprofit sector, and strengthen their network of nonprofit colleagues (learn more about ENLP here and come to an information session – dates announced in March 2017). During the breakfast, there was a facilitated discussion around the biggest barriers and challenges for young nonprofit professionals in RVA. Fairly quickly, themes began to emerge, as many audience members shared similar experiences and obstacles. The group continued the discussion of specific challenges by generating ideas, tips and advice for how a young nonprofit professional (or how an organization employing a young nonprofit professional) could work to overcome some of these challenges and barriers. Here are some of the main challenges that were discussed:

Read more →

 

Field Notes: Drawing Wisdom from Models of Success

Susan Hallett, Vice President of Programs at The Community Foundation serving Richmond and Central Virginia shares insights from her recent visit with Smart from the Start in Southeast DC. From this visit and through discussion with her local colleagues who joined her on the journey, she formed 3 key takeaways that we can utilize here in Greater Richmond.

Read more →

 

Impacts and Implications of the Election on RVA Nonprofits

No matter how you’re feeling about the new president, one thing can be certain: changes in government - local, state and federal - have a huge impact on the nonprofit field. Whether those impacts are positive or negative, our sectors are intertwined and changes in legislation, leadership and government funding can and will have a trickle-down effect on nonprofit operations, philanthropy, volunteerism, services for vulnerable populations and so much more. In January, The Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia gathered alumni of its Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program (ENLP) to discuss anticipated impacts and implications of the federal election on their work as nonprofit leaders. Led by Susan Wilkes (the ENLP Lead Faculty), the robust conversation covered topics from “leading through political uncertainty” to “what nonprofits are doing and could do as they prepare for government changes”. Broken down by nonprofit issue area (ie Health and Wellness and Family/Housing), here’s what the nonprofit leaders in the room had to say about implications of the election on the nonprofit sector:

Read more →

 

Building Evaluation Culture in Nonprofit Organizations

building-an-eval-culture-blog-kag

We caught up with Trina Willard – principal and founder of the Knowledge Advisory Group (KAG) about an often confusing, but incredibly important topic – how to build a culture of evaluation in a nonprofit in order to thrive.  Here’s what she’s seeing in the field and the advice she gave:

While assisting nonprofit organizations with data and measurement responsibilities, we are often asked about the struggles they experience trying to get their staff “on board” with program evaluation efforts. The conversation usually goes a bit like this:

Nonprofit:  “Program evaluation? Ugh.  Our staff doesn’t have time for all that data stuff.  On top of everything else they already have to do?  No, it’s just seems too hard. Besides that, who really uses that information anyway?”

KAG:  “Hmmm…perhaps we should dig into those perceptions a bit.  What steps are you taking to build an evaluation culture, side-by-side with your service culture?”

Nonprofit:  “Evaluation culture?  What’s that?”

And therein lies the challenge.  As program evaluation has become more important within the landscape of nonprofit program and resource development, its integration into the culture of nonprofit organizations often lags behind.

So what exactly do I mean by evaluation culture? In a nutshell, it is the foundation for systematic and successful evaluation efforts and entails three primary elements:

  1. How your staff thinks and feels about evaluation

What is the climate like in your nonprofit when staff discusses evaluation? Do they express anxiety or feel apprehensive about the evaluation process?  Or are they energized by the opportunity to demonstrate progress and continuous improvement?  An effective evaluation culture places an emphasis on the latter.

  1. Your board & leadership’s philosophy about evaluation

 What is your organization’s overarching philosophy on the role of evaluation in driving your program model?  What is its role in resource development? How are these messages communicated by leadership?  If leadership is engaged, this prepares the organization for active engagement, as an evaluation plan won’t implement itself.  Organizational leaders can help identify and set priorities for an internal evaluation champion who will drive the process, provide oversight and monitor implementation.

  1. How your organization integrates evaluation into key functions and processes

 Nonprofit best practices address program evaluation as an ongoing, systematic approach that is designed to continually develop programs, maximize effectiveness, and address community needs as they change.  As such, evaluation infrastructure and principles should weave throughout the organization, thereby becoming an integral part of strategic planning processes, human resource structures, programmatic data collection procedures, and ongoing organizational reviews.

Cultivation of an improvement-oriented evaluation culture is a critical factor in developing sound nonprofit practices. If you’re interested in learning more, evaluation culture is one of the topics we’ll discuss in our upcoming class Evaluate Your Nonprofit’s Success: Defining & Measuring Outcomes on January 20, 2017 with The Community Foundation serving Richmond and Central Virginia.

 

trina

Trina Willard is the Principal Consultant at Knowledge Advisory Group. Before founding the Knowledge Advisory Group in 2010, she served for seven years as the Vice President of Transformation Systems Inc. (TSI), a small, award-winning management consulting firm. Her prior experience includes almost a decade as Chief of the Evaluation Unit of the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, Criminal Justice Research Center.

She provides organizations with measurement, research and evaluation services that inform planning and future organizational development. Trina’s methods examine the implementation and effectiveness of initiatives, programs, policies, and procedures, thereby helping clients guide decisions with the power of meaningful information.

Read more →