Are we measuring a culture change?

Measurement has become a buzzword in the nonprofit sector. Everyone wants to know – how do you know what you know; and how do you know what you’ve accomplished? Funders, researchers, city leaders, and think-tanks all want to know what your “measures” are. We imagine you have heard a variation on this statement: If you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist. And yet so many of us in the nonprofit sector know that we have to take into account the immeasurable, the intangible, and the “good will” built over decades within communities and amongst people and organizations. This is especially true when it comes to the measurable and immeasurable work of diversity, equity, access, and inclusion.

We recently were asked to give a short talk on the topic of Diversity in Fundraising for the National Association of Economic Educators. We were excited to be invited to be part of their conference, and we wanted to leave them with a tool they could use once “back home.”

We created a “DEI at a Glance” survey that they could share with members of their staff. With this column our remarks with you, with the survey included. You can download it, print it out and share it with members of your organization. It asks “simple” questions that can be answered yes or no, and then asks questions that push the survey taker to “back up” their responses. All questions can be answered “yes,” “no,” “not sure,” “not yet,” or “in process.”

For example, the opening statement in the survey is: We value diversity, equity, and inclusion and seek to integrate these into all our work. That could be perceived as a simple question. But the next statement builds on that, with the following: we have defined our mission and goals for our diversity, equity, and inclusion program. If the survey taker answers yes, they are asked to insert the mission and goals. Our feeling is this: it’s not enough to be committed, you also have to have a mission and goals, and these need to be known across the organization. The same is true about knowing which areas your organization will focus its DEI work on.

It’s also important to have a timeline and action plan to guide progress towards the agreed upon goals, and to define how your organization will measure its impact. That gets to our opening question – how are your defining your qualitative and quantitative measures, the “immeasurable” and the “measurable?” What systems are in place to measure these, and which ones need to be developed. Related to this – who will manage this work? Will this be the responsibility of one person, or will it be woven into the work of your organization?

We don’t believe there is any one right answer. Rather, we share this with you to open up discussions at your organization. There are no quick fixes – just a long-term process to engage in. We all have a lot of work to do: let’s measure our steps.


Copyright 2021 – Mel and Pearl Shaw of Saad&Shaw – Comprehensive Fund Development Services. Let us help you plan for 2021 Video and phone conferencing services always available. Call us at (901) 522-8727. www.saadandshaw.com.

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