This year has pushed economic and social disparities experienced by communities of color to the center of the public square. Not only has the pandemic made painfully evident the intersections of race and class, but the brutal murder of Black people at the hands of the police has reminded us of the foundation of white supremacy upon which this nation stands. These events have brought greater awareness to the deep need for systemic change to fight the pervasive racism in our culture and lives.
When Spark Point Fundraising was founded in 2014, we started with a vision of equity. In 2017, when we launched our new website, we put equity at the center of our messaging and announced our commitment to it on the home page, where it remains. But, this year has made us realize that we must take more active and productive steps to be anti-racist and hold ourselves accountable for our privilege. As we sought input into the messaging for our #BlackWomenSparkChange campaign from BIPOC leaders, they challenged us to make our own commitments to ending racism. Now, we are sharing our thoughts, ideas, and plans for how to be an Anti-Racist ally. With this post we are also aiming to start a conversation with our fellow peers about the ways we can do MORE.
At Spark Point, 60% of the organizations we serve are run by people of color, but in the larger nonprofit sector only 6% of nonprofit leaders are people of color, and nonprofit boards are still largely populated with white males. As we seek to build our team, we have made significant efforts – through how we word our job descriptions, how we promote our jobs, and conduct our hiring process – to attract more applicants of color. However, the pipeline of people with fundraising skills and experience is also not very representative of the people that nonprofits serve.
It is difficult to hire Black, Indigenous, and other people of color because they haven’t been given or felt comfortable seeking out the opportunities to learn these skills. It’s a pervasive problem in the fundraising community. This is true in our field for the same reason it is true in other fields – poor or tokenistic efforts to improve diversity and inclusion, covert or unconscious bias, and racial disparities in higher education. The result is a talent pool bereft of diversity of thought, experience, and culture.
To tackle this issue, we believe we must ensure an environment free from intolerance as well as create opportunities for a more diverse and inclusive staff. On our job listings and employee handbook, it is written that we are an organization committed to anti-racism and that if that commitment does not resonate with potential hires then they are not a good fit for our organization! We believe that it is essential to have a team that matches our values and commitment to ending racism.
As an organization, we have dedicated time and efforts to examine racism and other forms of oppression so that we not only improve our organizational environment from within but also enhance how we interact with our clients and write about the marginalized communities we aim to help. To further our efforts to become a better anti-racist ally, we have added anti-racism efforts to our weekly staff meeting agenda and dedicated a Slack channel to sharing resources that educate us on discrimination and racial injustices, help us understand how to advance anti-racist efforts, and enable us to support those at the forefront of anti-racist activism.
We are also striving to have our current staff work towards developing their own anti-racism practice and contribute to the company’s efforts by engaging Service to Justice to lead us in an intensive Rooting Out Racism workshop that will help us understand how we are contributing to racism through our privilege and how to build a stronger anti-racist practice. The engagement will include workshops and training on racial equity, power dynamics, and working with individuals affected by racism. As we learn we intend to share our experiences through a series of blog posts on antiracist resources and share our path to advancing our antiracist vision!
We believe that by having our current team do the work of addressing the power structures that come from racialized systems, as well as developing an honest culture, we will be one step closer to racial justice.
If you have any suggestions on what more we can do please feel free to reach out to our team! We welcome ALL feedback, comments, and/or concerns!