Maryland Nonprofits’ Carmen Marshall weighs in on Nonprofit Equity Action Plans – The Chronicle of Philanthropy

July 13, 2020

Maryland Nonprofits Consulting Director, Carmen Marshall, has been quoted in The Chronicle of Philanthropy, regarding work with nonprofits on equity action plans! The excerpt of the article in which Carmen has been quoted can be found below, and the full article can be viewed here.


Re-evaluating Attitudes

Some groups that had resisted doing an assessment of their approach to racial equity have become newly interested in doing the work over the past few weeks.

Last year, an organization that experienced negative instances of racial tension came to Carmen Marshall, director of the consulting group at Maryland Nonprofits. Marshall suggested the nonprofit do a top-to-bottom review of its systems — everything from human resources and hiring practices to the way that leadership and staff operate — to look for bias.

“They thought that was too much, just thought it was too overwhelming, too soon to commit to that,” Marshall recalls. Instead the organization’s leaders just wanted to do a few training sessions starting with the board.

That changed last month. After George Floyd was killed, the group contacted her to say it wanted to take the holistic approach she recommended in the first place.

“They said to me, ‘We want to talk about white supremacy. We want to talk about company systems.’ And that’s coming from the white leadership,” Marshall says. “Everything’s on the table.”

Organizations have been talking about this work, but now their employees are demanding action, she says. Marshall and her colleagues are encouraging their nonprofit clients to consider, “for every good intention, where is the action?”

She helps groups create “equity action plans” with both short- and longer-term strategies. Nonprofits, she says, have to be flexible and patient as they work to transform their organizations.

“It’s sort of like building a new house in a war-torn area,” she says. “You can’t just do that. You have to take care of the people. You have to put up with construction.”


Carmen, your hard work and dedication toward making spaces more inclusive and equitable in the nonprofit sector is abundantly clear and deeply appreciated. We are so happy to have you as a member of the Maryland Nonprofits Family and for helping others grow around you – both within our organization and throughout our network. To Carmen, and all of the changemakers in our nonprofit communities, thank you. Your work does NOT go unnoticed.

For more information on consulting services, email Carmen Marshall at cmarshall@mdnonprofit.org.

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