Developing Your Own Statement

June 5, 2020

The Standards for Excellence: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector calls for “all organizations to incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion into their work as part of their missions.”  Most organizations have incorporated these principles into their organizational values, visions and goals.  The killing of George Floyd at the hands of police has created untold pain and fear among Black communities but has also mobilized leaders and organizations from across the nation to stand against systemic racism.  Staying silent in this time is not an option for organizations that have embraced a true commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.  Making a statement can highlight your organization’s unique mission and expertise, and provide an opportunity for you to educate the community on how the field in which you work is impacted by systemic racism.  It can also help your organizational stakeholders to clarify your analysis and action steps you can take.

Below are some steps to take in preparing an organizational statement:

  • Read and listen to Black voices.
  • Have an organizational conversation. Invite Black people to speak first if they choose to do so.
  • Discuss the meaning of your mission, vision, and values statements in this context. How are they reflected your response?
  • Expect push-back, and talk about it in advance. Receiving criticism of your statement may be the sign that you are part of creating change, not just stating platitudes.  Your response to criticism will help you further your analysis and commitment.

For the content of your statement, consider the following questions:

  • What is your mission, who do you serve, and how are people you are serving impacted by systemic racism?
  • What are our organizational values and how do we put those values into action now?
  • What analysis can we provide that is unique to our field?
  • How does our analysis link to broader, systemic, and institutional racism?
  • What help can we offer?
  • What actions will we take, and what commitments are we making?

Always be non-partisan.  See resources from Alliance for Justice on 501(c)(3) rules for addressing the actions of incumbent officials in an election year.

The process of creating a statement can help you deepen your commitment to racial equity, and uncover priorities you may have to deepen your work in this area.  We invite you to claim your expertise, and stretch to consider and name laws or policies in your field that need to be examined with a racial equity lens.

For more information on how you can incorporate the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion into the mission of your organization, please check out the Standards for Excellence educational resource packet Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion which offers advice and assistance on assessing your own diversity, equity and inclusion values, creating a strong and effective DEI policy, understanding the terms and language, as well as sample assessment and planning tools.

The Standards for Excellence educational resource packet and the full series of all packets  – including sample policies, tools, and model procedures to help nonprofits achieve best practices in their governance and management – can be accessed by contacting a Licensed Standards for Excellence replication partner, one of the over 150 Standards for Excellence Licensed Consultants, or by becoming a member of the Standards for Excellence Institute. Members of Maryland Nonprofits have access to this and all 27 Standards for Excellence Educational Resource Packets through the member portal.

We share our sincere wishes for your continued good health and patience as we all navigate these challenging and uncertain times.

About the Author: Heather Iliff

Heather Iliff is President & CEO of Maryland Nonprofits, responsible for advancing the organization’s vision to create a highly effective, ethical, and accountable nonprofit sector that drives change through collective action and advocacy. Ms. Iliff has an extensive career in nonprofits, governance, and advocacy and has been featured as a speaker at national conferences including Organizational Development Network Annual Conference, The Philanthropy and Non-Profit Performance Conference, Alliance for Nonprofit Management Annual Conference, and the Association of Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action. She is a licensed consultant with the Standards for Excellence Institute.