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Changing How We Do Business: Q&A with AFP Minnesota

By YWCA Minneapolis
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YWCA’s Inc.ludeTM Equity and Inclusion Consulting was honored to team up with AFP Minnesota (Association of Fundraising Professionals) to help them on their path toward building equity within the organization. YWCA recently spoke with the president of AFP Minnesota, Dan Sassenberg, to discuss what that experience has been like and why they see working toward equity as a bold, yet necessary endeavor.

Illustration of people with different skin tones with speech bubbles above their heads

How did AFP start to recognize their need to build equity throughout their board and organization?

There’s no getting around it, fundraising has been a very white profession. It wasn’t hard to look around the room and see very few – if any – people of color. I wasn’t a part of the early discussions that led us to form a diversity task force, but that blossomed into our current IDEA committee. I am grateful to those pioneers who realized we weren’t doing well enough when our profession, as well as the chapter’s membership, did not reflect that diversity that exists in our society.

“There’s no getting around it, fundraising has been a very white profession.”

How has working with YWCA Minneapolis & Inc.lude Consulting helped your board learn about equity and inclusion?

Working with Ruthie and YWCA Minneapolis has been invaluable in terms of helping each board member to understand their strengths, weakness and biases around this work. YWCA has helped us to understand our chapter’s overall cultural competency, as well as some of the deep-seated structural sources of inequality that we need to address. Our organization has a culture we were not fully aware of, and values that are unstated. In order to be successful here, you have to come in essentially already understanding that culture and those values. For outsiders, this can be nearly impossible. YWCA has given us some concrete steps we can take to address this.

“YWCA has helped us to understand our chapter’s overall cultural competency, as well as some of the deep-seated structural sources of inequality that we need to address.”

What has been most exciting in this process? Alternatively, what has been most challenging?

The most exciting thing for me personally is to know that we are working to include people who have historically been shut out of the profession. It’s a wonderful career and we need every different person and perspective around the table if we are going to maximize the good work that nonprofits can do for our society. Nobody should be turned away from fundraising because of race, ethnicity, gender, disability or anything else about who they intrinsically are.

“The most exciting thing for me personally is to know that we are working to include people who have historically been shut out of the profession.”

The most challenging thing is that structural sources of inequality go deep. It’s easy to see the tension on the surface, but harder to see down to the root cause. We need to be bold in changing how we do business so that structural inequity does not yield racist and inequitable outcomes.

Learn more about the work of AFP Minnesota at afpminnesota.org.

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