So many community-based non-profits are staffed by hard working, brilliant, dedicated, white folks. These non-profits deliver services and improve lives for millions of people each year. Without these teams, lives would be poorer off. 

Working in these communities, equity is a central topic. When the community you serve is from around the world, with a diversity of skills, education levels, and incomes, it becomes a mirror to reflect upon who and what a non-profit is. Inclusion and representation are obvious places to self-investigate whether a non-profit welcomes all people, experiences, and ideas. But biases, structures, stereotypes, power, and culture are difficult to diagnose. These “invisible” inequities can be the root cause of some unwillingly insensitive actions. Addressing these symptoms of inequity demands honest, and sometimes difficult, self-analysis.

Recognizing and calling out the inequities in a non-profit organization is a vital, sometimes momentous, step. But it is only half of the journey. Putting new principles into practice, or praxis, is the often-unfinished work that holds many groups back. Equity praxis may evolve more fully at a non-profit that adopts these principles:

  • Radical Transparency: no secrets, ever,
  • Regular Reflection: annual to daily review of progress towards equity goals,
  • Right People Only: ruthless retention and recruitment of the “right people” to staff and board, and
  • Revenue Stewardship: tell every donor stories of equity praxis changing lives in your community .

Enter this practice with a sense of humility in staff and board leadership. Project a sense of joy and excitement about the learning and discovery you are embarking on. Seek new donors who share your enthusiasm. And accept that you will fail, learn, and go again, every day, as you build equity praxis throughout your work.