2019 Conference: Nonprofit Leaders Get “Sustenance” to Strengthen Their Work and Communities

2019 Conference thank you email banner-minFRAMINGHAM, MA – On Wednesday, October 16, 2019, over 600 nonprofit and business leaders attended the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network (MNN)’s annual conference, Building A Better Commonwealth. The conference provided 30 workshops and networking to deepen nonprofit leaders’ capacities to build stronger communities, featured a keynote panel discussion focusing on three areas of the statewide sector’s impact, and honored Priscilla Kane Hellweg and Darnell Williams for their storied and influential careers in the nonprofit sector.

“We know that in this line of work, there are often times when your feet are tired, but your soul is rested,” said CEO Jim Klocke in his opening remarks, hearkening back to civil rights icon Mother Pollard. “Our goal today is to give you sustenance so that at the end of each day going forward, your souls may be rested.”

The conference featured a keynote panel discussion moderated by Bob Gittens, Executive Director of Cambridge Family and Children’s Services and Vice Chair of the MNN Board of Directors, with Rachel Heller, CEO of the Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA), Eva Millona, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy (MIRA) Coalition, and Jerry Rubin, President and CEO of JVS Boston.

The panelists discussed the theme “building a better Commonwealth” and how their organizations are addressing critical issues throughout the state. The panel focused in particular on the ways that their respective issue areas–combating “cliff effects” and promoting economic mobility (CHAPA), ensuring a complete count in the 2020 Census (MIRA), and preparing the workforce for a 21st century economy (JVS Boston)–impact the nonprofit sector broadly and thus require collaborative approaches.

“The 2020 Census impacts all of us; if we are under-counted, we will all suffer,” said Millona. “Nonprofits need to work together to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

“The issue for many people in this economy is not finding a job–it’s getting a good job that pays well,” said Rubin. “JVS Boston works directly with employers to create these kinds of jobs.”

“We need a culture that calls out what’s wrong in our society, and we need collaboration between organizations to make it right,” added Heller.

MNN also presented the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Awards to Priscilla Kane Hellweg, Executive and Artistic Director of Enchanted Circle Theater, and Darnell Williams, former President and CEO of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts.

Priscilla Kane Hellweg, who co-founded Enchanted Circle Theater 39 years ago, was honored for her dedication to providing arts integration education and for inspiring thousands of children and adults across Massachusetts.

“I still feel inspired whenever I see a child using arts integration go from ‘I can’t’ to ‘I can,’” said Kane Hellweg. “It doesn’t get better than that.”

Darnell Williams, who served as President and CEO at the Urban League until September, was honored for his commitment to uplifting communities of color in the Greater Boston area.

In his remarks, Williams implored the nonprofit audience to “keep marching” to the top of the proverbial mountain–and not to leave anyone behind. “We can’t forget to bring the forgotten with us. Reaching the summit happens when we’re all there together,” said Williams.

The conference also featured almost 50 business exhibitors focused on serving nonprofits. Held every year since the organization’s founding in 2007, MNN’s conference is one of the largest events dedicated to building nonprofit capacity in Massachusetts.

Our Shared Sector: After Understanding the “DE&I” Acronym, How Can Nonprofits Start Their DE&I Journeys?

DEIForNonprofits (1)-min

The last edition of Our Shared Sector described the differences between each part of the “DE&I” Acronym–diversity, equity, and inclusion–and explained how the differences between each requires distinct approaches in improving them at an organization. This edition focuses on steps that nonprofits can take to weave the principles of diversity, equity into their organizational cultures.

Diversity

Increasing diversity within an organization most often means working with the Human Resources team, and any others in charge of hiring and promotion. It may mean creating or adjusting your hiring handbook or including language in job postings that indicate that people of color, women and non-binary individuals, those with disabilities, etc. are encouraged to apply.

Equity

By focusing on equity, an organization addresses all aspects of their work with an understanding that not all employees or potential employees have access to the same resources. Using an equity lens means asking questions such as: “Where are you posting the job description? Is the language accessible? Are you listing skills that allow other people to apply?” For example, you may recognize that while a job description states, “Master’s degree preferred,” not all prospective employees have had access to graduate education, so it is worth evaluating comparable skills sets for the job, such as experience working in the community.

Utilizing an equity lens means realizing that people of less privileged backgrounds often do not enter an organization with the same resources as their privileged counterparts. Therefore, it is equitable to provide them with additional support, such as providing them with professional development opportunities. Additionally, an equitable lens recognizes that leadership must ensure that white people and men are contributing to inclusion and are committed to change on an institutional level.

Inclusion

Inclusion works to create a welcoming work culture–one where individuals of all identities and racial and ethnic backgrounds feel that they are being supported and able to succeed. One strategy many workplaces employ is creating an Inclusion Committee. Committees such as these work with senior leadership and provide a space for individuals to brainstorm how to better support people of color and women in all levels.

What’s the next step?

Even after understanding the differences in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, actually putting a plan in place can feel daunting.

Keep these three pieces of advice in mind during your DE&I journey:

  1. It takes time. DE&I work is an ongoing process that will require both time in employees’ work schedules and a long-term plan that the organization commits to seeing through.
  2. This is not easy work. People are not used to discussing equity in the workplace, and it is going to be hard to get everyone on board. That is why leadership buy-in is so crucial–support from the top can provide needed guidance to the entire organization.
  3. There is no “right way” to do equity work. Each organization must come up with a plan to address their particular workplace dynamics and opportunities.

Consider reaching out to experts to ensure your organization makes the space and time to create meaningful cultural change.

About YW Boston

As the first YWCA in the nation, YW Boston has been at the forefront of advancing equity for over 150 years. Through our DE&I services—InclusionBoston and LeadBoston—as well as our advocacy work and youth programming, we help individuals and organizations change policies, practices, attitudes, and behaviors with a goal of creating more inclusive environments where women, people of color, and especially women of color can succeed.

Nonprofit 411: Today’s Leadership Skills to Support Tomorrow’s Nonprofits

Nonprofit 411 WittKieffer-minBy John Fazekas, WittKieffer

Today’s nonprofits need leaders with more to offer than passion for the mission. They need executives who can build a brand, differentiate the organization from competitors and guide it to sustainability. Clarity on strategic priorities and proof of impact have risen to the top of organizations’ priority lists, with substantiated results expected of top nonprofit executives. In an effort to identify their next leader, organizations are prioritizing the following as essential skills and competencies:

Fundraising, Fundraising and More Fundraising: Many organizations require that their new leader demonstrate an ability to identify and tap new sources of revenue as part of a larger fundraising strategy. Whether donations, grants, corporate alliances or programmatic partnerships, CEO and executive director candidates must have an acute ability for accessing funding alternatives.

Partnering/Building Alliances: Nonprofits are looking for leaders with an entrepreneurial spirit who can identify partnerships with other entities in the community, and use these partnerships to do more for the population by offering complementary services.

Strategic Program Leadership/Performance Metrics: Wise spending, a pragmatic review of programs and using hard data to demonstrate actual impact and effectiveness of programs and services are all points of emphasis in the recruitment of new executives. Today’s leaders are expected to introduce innovations, design and implement comprehensive performance metrics, and be willing to cut ineffective and inefficient programs.

Social Media/Brand Building: Organizations want leaders who know how to build brands. There is no single media or social media tool that is a must-have, but today’s nonprofit leaders must know how to appeal to a new generation of supporters in a manner to which they will respond and share the organization’s story with others.

Subject Matter Knowledge: Organizations are looking for candidates who truly know the landscape and the key players (returning somewhat to earlier times in the nonprofit industry). This refers in particular to candidates who come from the for-profit sector with impressive resumes, but still must show familiarity with the organization and its environment.

Ability to Demonstrate Credibility, Quickly: Nonprofits look for new executives who will take time to learn the history and culture of an organization. Conversely, a new leader must quickly identify what can and should be done, and display calculated decisiveness. “Slash and burn” is by no means the right course, but changes made early in a new leader’s tenure will confirm the right hire was made.

About the Author

With 25 years of executive search experience, John Fazekas works with colleagues in WittKieffer’s Not-for-Profit and Healthcare practices to identify outstanding leaders for clients’ specific cultures and strategic needs. He has led and supported a range of engagements for CEOs/presidents, executive directors, COOs, CFOs and other key senior roles. Based in the firm’s Boston office, John’s clients include foundations and trusts, major civic and cultural organizations, hospitals, health systems, community health centers, disease-based associations and research institutes, and many other mission-driven organizations.

Creating a Culture of Philanthropy Within Your Organization

Giving Item box (4)-minby Stacy Dell’Orfano, Director of Development, Friends of the Children-Boston

When nonprofit professionals think about development, they typically think about how development professionals get people and institutions to give to nonprofits. But what we need to start thinking about is how to educate and involve the coworkers and colleagues that don’t have “development” in their job titles with the donor cultivation and stewardship process. With this in mind, development is more than just soliciting funds: it is also about creating a culture of philanthropy that is embedded within all aspects of an organization, and where all staff and board play an integral role in building sustainability. The results of culture steeped in philanthropy are accountability for all, shared responsibility, and a lasting impact on sustaining your mission.

Here are 4 steps you can take to build a culture of philanthropy at your organization:

  1. Educate yourself on relevant statistics and trends on giving and donor retention. Bloomerang, a company providing widely-used donor management database tools, found that for every 100 donors gained by nonprofits in 2016, 99 were lost due to attrition. Compounding the difficulty in retaining donors were the changes from 2017 federal tax reform law, which likely were a driving force behind the $3.21 billion drop in individual giving in 2018. These challenges are particularly difficult if you are still looking at donor relationships as a transactional–not a transformational–part of the everyday work at your organization.
  2. Get buy-in from your leadership. Building culture at any organization begins with buy-in from leadership. Share the stats mentioned above, as well as your organization’s data on its donors and attrition rates. Educating those you work for and making them part of the donor stewardship process is essential.
  3. Educate staff on the basics of fundraising and involve them in fundraising campaigns. At Friends of the Children-Boston, we begin this process by hosting a workshop for all staff on Donor Appreciation and Stewardship. We know the workshop is successful if staff leave the session with a better understanding of the “what” and “way” surrounding donor appreciation and stewardship, the donor stewardship cycle, and why it is essential to engage staff and beneficiaries in the donor appreciation and stewardship process. In addition to the professional development this offers staff, the organization itself benefits: at Friends-Boston workshops, we create tangible takeaways for our donors, including template materials for thank-you notes, letters, and cards that are ready for customization. Youth in our programs use these templates to write personalized notes to donors with staff trained to help them. These personalized cards are used for new donor welcome packages and as supplemental thank-yous for key returning donors. We have seen the number of returning donors and multi-year donors increase after implementing these personalized cards. We have even had donors send unsolicited donations after receiving them!
  4. Listen to donors and look for opportunities to engage more deeply.  Reach out to your donors and learn how they want to interact with your mission: do they want to be taken on a site visit, volunteer with your organization, or are they content with personalized thank-yous and updates? Don’t just reach out to individual donors in this process. Include corporate and philanthropic supporters as well.

The deeper you engage with your donors, the more you will make them feel connected to the mission and increase their loyalty to the organization. And because you included staff in the process, they will see and understand that they are an essential part of the process.

Member Spotlight: The Phoenix

Member Spotlight The Phoenix website-minSeptember was National Recovery Month and nonprofit organizations throughout the Commonwealth hosted events and worked to build awareness of available recovery resources. One organization, The Phoenix, used the month to bring a message of hope, to erase the stigma around addiction, and to help make Massachusetts known as one of the best places to be in recovery.

The Phoenix is a nonprofit organization that fosters a free sober active community for individuals recovering from a substance use disorder and those who choose to live sober. Since launching programs in Colorado in 2006, more than 32,000 people have walked through their doors nationally. By leveraging the intrinsic power of physical activity and social connection, participants build confidence and find the support they need to live fulfilling lives in recovery.

Phoenix programming is free to anyone with at minimum 48 hours of continuous sobriety and instructors are in recovery themselves. With this peer-to-peer model and a culture that is welcoming, safe and supportive, The Phoenix helps individuals rise from the ashes of addiction and pursue lives full of hope.

On Thursday, September 19, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker stopped by the Boston facility at 54 Newmarket Square to see the gym in action, meet program participants, and discuss mutual efforts to fight the ongoing opioid crisis and substance use disorder across the state.

A highlight of the visit was a moment when everyone yelled “Phoenix” loud and proud during a group photo. Governor Baker listened as a group of about 20 Team Members in recovery spoke about why they attend programming at The Phoenix.

“People come here for the classes and what they find is a new community and new friends. It’s a powerful transformation when we believe in someone until they can believe in themselves,” said Founder and Executive Director Scott Strode. “Governor Baker’s visit further reduces the stigma around addiction, and we applaud him for being a leader in the state and across the nation surrounding the opioid epidemic. It was an honor to have him here to see our work in action and to talk about how we can work together in the future.”

“Enjoyed the opportunity to visit The Phoenix, an active sober community focused on helping people through recovery with fitness and wellness programming,” said Governor Baker on social media. “Thank you for the work you do and for being of part Massachusetts’ recovery community.”

The Phoenix currently has Massachusetts programming in Boston, Lowell and Bourne. For more information, including class schedules or how to donate, visit www.thephoenix.org.

Priscilla Kane Hellweg, Darnell Williams to receive Lifetime Achievement Awards

2019 Panelist pic 2 Copy-minBOSTON, MA – The Massachusetts Nonprofit Network (MNN) has announced that Priscilla Kane Hellweg, Executive and Artistic Director of Enchanted Circle Theater of Holyoke, MA, and Darnell Williams, President and CEO of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, will be the recipients of the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Awards.

The awards will be presented at MNN’s annual conference on Wednesday, October 16, at the Sheraton Framingham Hotel and Conference Center.

“We are pleased to honor Priscilla and Darnell for their inspiring careers and for their invaluable contributions to the state’s nonprofit sector,” said Jim Klocke, CEO of MNN. “Their lives of service have made indelible impacts on the lives of people across the Commonwealth.”

“I am incredibly honored to be chosen by the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network for a Lifetime Achievement Award,” said Kane Hellweg. “To be a part of that moment of inspiration when children, youth, and adults feel their own creative potential is beyond inspiring. Thank you for this vote of confidence!”

“My family and I are so humbly honored to receive this recognition for the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network,” said Williams. “We do this work because of our passion and purpose to help people transform their lives for the better. To have that work highlighted is a sincere blessing.”

Every year, MNN honors outstanding leaders who have made lasting contributions to the Massachusetts nonprofit sector. Past Lifetime Achievement Award winners include Hubie Jones, Carol Duncan, Paul Grogan, Beth Smith, Michael Weekes, Joan Wallace-Benjamin, and Rev. Gloria White-Hammond.

About the Lifetime Achievement Award Winners

Priscilla Kane Hellweg is the Executive and Artistic Director of Enchanted Circle Theater, a nonprofit multi-service arts organization in Holyoke, MA, that integrates arts and education to engage, enhance, and inspire learning. Under Priscilla’s direction, Enchanted Circle has become a regional leader in the field of arts integration. Enchanted Circle works in public school districts across Western Massachusetts and collaborates with over 60 community service partner organizations to develop work that bridges arts, education, and human services to chronically under-served communities, including youth in foster care, families in homeless shelters, and youth in residential treatment programs.

Priscilla earned her Bachelor of Arts from Hampshire College and professional theater training from the Provincetown Playhouse. Priscilla has created district-wide arts integration initiatives to enhance academic achievement for Holyoke, Amherst, Northampton, and Westfield Public Schools, and has collaborated on the development of several Teacher Training Institutes with numerous partners, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Teaching American History grants.

Priscilla received the Champions of Arts Education Award from the Massachusetts Alliance for Arts in Education, and a Millennium Award from the National Guild of Community Arts Educators for her commitment to making quality arts education accessible to all. She was a finalist for MNN’s 2019 Nonprofit Excellence Award in the Leadership category. Priscilla’s manuscript, “Actively Engaged: Theater as a Dynamic Teaching Tool,” is scheduled for publication in 2020 by the University of Massachusetts-Arts Extension Service.

Darnell Williams is the President and CEO of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, a nonprofit that provides services and programs in education, career, and professional development and employment for African-Americans and other residents of color. Under Darnell’s direction, the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts hosted the National Urban League’s Annual Conference in Boston in 2011 after a 35-year absence, paving the way for additional conferences for people of color to come to Boston.

Darnell earned his Master’s degree in organizational development from Boston University after completing his undergraduate degree at American International College in Springfield, MA. Prior to joining the Urban League, he was Manager of Management Recruitment and Development at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) as well as a Diversity Consultant in private practice. Darnell served as President of the Springfield Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and as the President of the NAACP New England Area Conference.

Darnell was a contributing member to Boston’s successful effort to win the 2004 Democratic National Convention. For his contributions within the Black community and the City of Boston, Mayor Thomas Menino presented him with the 2003 Community Service Award. Darnell received an Honorary Doctor of Laws from American International College and an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Worcester State University.

About the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network

The Massachusetts Nonprofit Network (MNN) brings together nonprofits, funders, business leaders, and elected officials to strengthen nonprofits and raise the sector’s voice on critical issues. The network has more than 700 nonprofit member organizations and more than 100 for-profit affiliate partners. To learn more visit www.massnonprofitnet.org.

PRESS RELEASE: MNN Conference Panel to Address 2020 Census, Cliff Effects, and Workforce Development

2019 Panelist 4 square-min (1)BOSTON, MA – The Massachusetts Nonprofit Network (MNN) announced that a keynote panel featuring top nonprofit leaders will cover the 2020 Census, cliff effects, and workforce development at the organization’s annual conference on October 16, 2019, at the Sheraton Framingham Hotel and Conference Center.

The panel is centered around the conference theme, “Building a Better Commonwealth,” which captures a common aspirations of the Massachusetts nonprofit sector.

The conference’s keynote panelists will be Rachel Heller, CEO of the Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA); Eva Millona, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy (MIRA) Coalition; and Jerry Rubin, President and CEO of JVS.

The featured topics of the panel represent pressing issues at the forefront of nonprofit work. Nonprofits are playing a critical role in ensuring that hard-to-count communities participate in the 2020 Census. The “cliff effects” phenomenon, in which an increase in work earnings results in a sharp reduction or loss of public benefits, impacts many people that nonprofits serve. And as the state’s nonprofit sector faces a wave of retirements from senior-level positions, innovative workforce development strategies will be needed to develop the next generation of nonprofit leaders.

“We are excited to have Rachel, Eva, and Jerry on our conference keynote panel this year,” said Jim Klocke, CEO of MNN. “Their organizations do great work, and we can all learn from them.”

MNN holds its annual conference every year for nonprofit organizations across Massachusetts. The conference, drawing over 600 attendees annually from Massachusetts nonprofits and for-profit companies that serve nonprofits, is one of the largest gatherings for nonprofit professionals held in the Commonwealth.

About the Panelists

Rachel Heller is the CEO of Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA), an organization that encourages the production and preservation of affordable housing to low and moderate income families and individuals and fosters diverse and sustainable communities through planning and community development. Heller will bring to the panel expertise on solutions to combat “cliff effects,” a phenomenon experienced when an increase in work earnings results in a sharp reduction or loss of food, housing, childcare, and other public benefits. She previously worked as the Director of Public Policy at the Alliance for Business Leadership, served as Chief of Staff to Massachusetts State Senator Susan Tucker, and was the Senior Policy Advocate at Homes for Families, a nonprofit advocacy organization working to end family homelessness.

Eva Millona is the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy (MIRA) Coalition, the state’s largest organization representing the foreign born, and co-chair of the National Partnership for New Americans, the lead national organization focusing on immigrant integration. Millona is the chairperson of the 2020 Complete Count Committee, formed by Secretary of the Commonwealth Bill Galvin to provide education and lead community outreach around the decennial census. She will bring to the panel insights on how to encourage census participation in diverse communities. Millona is also the co-chair of the Governor’s Advisory Council for Refugees and Immigrants and serves on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. She serves on the Advisory Board for the Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement and serves on the Attorney General’s Council for New Americans. She is a frequent speaker on immigrant integration in national and international stages.

Jerry Rubin is President and CEO of JVS, an organization that empowers individuals from diverse communities to find employment and build careers and partners with employers to hire, develop, and retain productive workforces. Rubin has overseen the adoption of innovative strategies including the nation’s first Pay for Success project to focus exclusively on adult education and workforce development for low-skilled adults. Prior to JVS, Rubin founded and was Executive Director of two nonprofit organizations: the Greater Boston Manufacturing Partnership, a training and consulting organization, and the Coalition For a Better Acre, a community development corporation based in Lowell, Massachusetts. Rubin also spent ten years in the administration of Boston Mayor Raymond L. Flynn, leading several housing, economic development and workforce development initiatives. He is the author of numerous book chapters, articles, and monographs on housing, economic development, and workforce development issues.

About the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network

The Massachusetts Nonprofit Network (MNN) brings together nonprofits, funders, business leaders, and elected officials to strengthen nonprofits and raise the sector’s voice on critical issues. The network has more than 700 nonprofit member organizations and more than 100 for-profit affiliate partners. To learn more visit www.massnonprofitnet.org.

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Nonprofit 411: 5 IT Risks Every Organization Should Be Aware Of

Nonprofit 411 BerryDunn-minby Chris Ellingwood, BerryDunn

Technology: we all love it and we all immerse ourselves in it from every fashion of our daily lives. These emerging IT security risks are not overly technical in nature and are things you likely have heard before. Reflecting on a strong economy and a changing business environment, knowing these risks will help empower nonprofits to consider the controls needed to enhance their controls while they implement new, high demand technology and software to allow their organizations to thrive and grow.

1. Third-party Risk Management – It’s Still Your Fault

Daily, we rely on our business partners and vendors to make the work we do happen. Third-party vendors are a potential weak link in the information security chain and may expose your organization to risk. At the end of the day, though a data breach may have been the fault of a third-party, you are still responsible for it. It is paramount that all organizations (no matter their size) have a comprehensive vendor management program in place to defend themselves against third-party risk.

2. Regulation and Privacy Laws – They are Coming

2018 saw the implementation of the European Union’s General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR) which was the first major data privacy law pushed onto any organization who possesses, handles, or has access to any citizen of EU’s personal information. Enforcement has started and the Information Commissioner’s Office has begun fining some of the world’s most famous companies. All organizations must be aware of and understand current laws and proposed legislation. The good news is that there are a lot of resources out there and, in most cases, legislative requirements allow for grace periods to allow organizations to develop a complete understanding of proposed laws and implement needed controls.

3. Data Management – Time to Cut Through the Jungle

We all work with people who have thousands of emails in their inbox (that date back several years in some cases). Those users’ biggest fears may start to come to fruition – that their organizational approach of not deleting anything may come to an end with a simple email and data retention policy. Organizations should first complete a full data inventory and understand what types of data they maintain and handle, and where and how that data is stored. Next, organizations should develop a data retention policy that meets their needs. Utilizing backup storage media may be a solution that helps reduce the need to store and maintain a large amount of data on internal systems.

4. Doing the Basics Right – Sometimes the Simple Things Work

Across industries and organization size, the one common factor we see is that basic controls for IT security are not in place. Every organization, no matter their size, should work to ensure that they have controls in place. These include:

  • Established IT Security policies
  • Anti-virus/malware on all servers and workstations
  • System logging and monitoring
  • Employee security training

5. Employee Retention and Training

Organizations should be highly focused on employee retention and training to keep current employees up-to-speed on technology and security trends. A culture of security needs to be created and fostered from the top down. Making the effort to empower and train all employees is a powerful way to demonstrate your appreciation and support of the employees within your organization—and keep your data more secure in the process.

Ensuring that you have a stable and established IT security program in place by considering the above risks will help your organization adapt to technology changes and create more than just an IT security program, but a culture of security-minded employees. Our team of security and control experts can help your organization create and implement controls needed to consider emerging IT risks. You may contact me at cellingwood@berrydunn.com for more information.

Our Shared Sector: What Every Nonprofit Should Know About the Acronym “DE&I”

by YW Boston

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, or “DE&I” as it is commonly referred to, is a phrase that broadly outlines the efforts an organization takes to create a more welcoming environment for people of less-privileged identities. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion can include any number of interventions and can feel daunting for nonprofits as it requires time, resources, and organizational buy-in. Once a nonprofit has identified that it wants to promote more diverse, inclusive, and equitable spaces, a good starting point is gaining clarity on what diversity, equity, and inclusion is and isn’t.

But Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is referred to as “DE&I” so often that many individuals may not know what each letter refers to. One barrier nonprofits may face in getting started building a strategy is not knowing the difference between these three concepts and how to address each.

To get started, each part of the acronym is defined below.

What is diversity? What is equity? What is inclusion?

Independent Sector’s definitions of each of these terms are helpful to understanding their differences:

Diversity “includes all the ways in which people differ, encompassing the different characteristics that make one individual or group different from another,” including identity markers such as race, ethnicity, gender, differing abilities, sexual orientation, religion, and more. It also takes intersectional diversity into account, when people’s identity is made of a number of underrepresented identities.

Equity is “the fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all people, while at the same time striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groups. Improving equity involves increasing justice and fairness within the procedures and processes of institutions or systems, as well as in their distribution of resources.”

Inclusion is “the act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued to fully participate. An inclusive and welcoming climate embraces differences and offers respect in words and actions for all people.” Inclusion goes beyond diversity, because once you have a diverse staff, organizations must focus on retention.

YW Boston often uses inclusion strategist Vernā Myers’ analogy: “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.” Diversity is often thought of as being quantifiable by measuring who is represented in an institution. Inclusion is measured through qualifiable data, looking at attitudes and people’s perceptions of how welcoming an organization.

Why can it be unhelpful to boil it all down to “DE&I” acronym?

While goal setting is an important aspect of this work, diversity, equity, and inclusion each require different methods of intervention, different resources, and different tools for measurement.

When Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are boiled down to the acronym DE&I, diversity often becomes the focus. Because racial, ethnic, and/or gender diversity can sometimes (but not always) be determined by visually scanning an organization, nonprofits may feel it is the easiest to measure and therefore tackle. Diversifying the workforce is important, but that doesn’t directly lead to those new hires feeling welcomed or supported in the organization.

To be able to move beyond diversity, YW Boston’s InclusionBoston team explains, an organization must work with “an understanding that the systems they are working in, especially when they think about institutions, are not equal and are not equitable. They need to recognize that they have to move beyond just having people in the room or at the table.” Organizations often assume that diversity equals inclusivity. While that is not necessarily the case, oftentimes if you are truly inclusive, diversity will follow along.

In addition, many people assume that DE&I work refers specifically to race and gender, but it can address any or all systemic issues of inequity. By looking deeper than the DE&I acronym, an organization can determine whether there is a particular systemic inequity it must address.

The next edition of Our Shared Sector will help nonprofits begin to address each part of the DE&I acronym within their organizations.

About YW Boston

As the first YWCA in the nation, YW Boston has been at the forefront of advancing equity for over 150 years. Through our DE&I services—InclusionBoston and LeadBoston—as well as our advocacy work and youth programming, we help individuals and organizations change policies, practices, attitudes, and behaviors with a goal of creating more inclusive environments where women, people of color, and especially women of color can succeed.

Member Spotlight: Community Access to the Arts

Member Spotlight Community Access to the Arts-minRuthie wheels up to the canvas with a big smile. She just celebrated her 102nd birthday, and she’s about to start a new painting.

Thanks to workshops provided by Berkshire-based nonprofit and MNN member Community Access to the Arts (CATA), Ruthie began making art two years ago using an adaptive technique designed for people with significant physical disabilities. Since then, she’s finished twelve gorgeous paintings— and sold three at CATA art exhibits!

With the help of a laser pointer and the aid of a trained “tracker”— a person who acts as the artist’s hands— Ruthie and dozens of other CATA artists are able to create stunning works of art using “Artistic Realization Technologies” (A.R.T.). Developed by artist Tim Lefens, this innovative technique gives full creative control to people who aren’t able to hold or manipulate a paintbrush.

“A.R.T. offers a way for artists like Ruthie to communicate something that would otherwise go unsaid or unknown,” says Stefanie Weber, a CATA Faculty Artist who serves as Ruthie’s tracker.

After working with Stefanie for the past year, Ruthie has found a unique style that’s all her own.

“Do you want a big brush or a little brush?” asks Stefanie. She holds out a handful of brushes and Ruthie takes her time feeling each one. After she chooses, Ruthie uses a color wheel to show Stefanie exactly which shade she wants to use.

“How’s this?” Stefanie asks, mixing the paint together. Ruthie smiles, “Yeah!”

With a laser pointer around her wrist, Ruthie shows Stefanie where to put the brush on the canvas. She moves the laser up and over, then into the corner, revealing a bright stroke of blue paint.

Ruthie is one of 800 CATA artists who take part in CATA workshops each year in dozens of art forms, including theater, dance, yoga, juggling, creative writing, painting, and more. Through CATA’s dynamic workshops and public events, artists with disabilities tap into their potential, explore new talents, and share their creative perspectives with the wider community. CATA collaborates with day programs, residences, school, and nursing homes across the Berkshires and upstate New York to bring arts opportunities to as many people with disabilities as possible.

Before workshops started up again this year, Ruthie “couldn’t wait to get back to work.” Thanks to our community of supporters, she’s celebrating her 102nd birthday with a fresh canvas and a big creative spark!