After Black History Month has been celebrated, how will your organization, business, or philanthropy stay relevant between now and next February?
A lot of energy goes into celebrating Black History Month. It’s important and necessary. Too many of us have been educated about an American history – and a world history – that does not include the rich and diverse reality of Black lived experience and contributions. Black History Month fills an important void, and nonprofits, businesses, and philanthropy are all engaged in planning for community and national programming.
This work must continue. And it must be supplemented by other activities that keep an organization relevant and involved in the Black community throughout the year. This is especially important for those organizations that are not Black-led: you don’t want to be known as the organization that is only involved with the community in February.
Here are a few things to consider as you plan out your impact for 2021 and beyond.
Make meaningful investments and a change in how you and your organization think and act today. Create a cross-functional team from across your organization to discuss and plot out the ways that your organization can increase its impact in the Black community. Think locally, and as appropriate, think nationally and globally. Have executives participate in this planning as well as those who work in positions that may not be visible or high status: you want a diversity of perspectives.
Assess your involvement in community activities. Apply a racial equity lens: which nonprofits is your organization involved with? What is the racial composition of their leadership and staff? Ask questions such as: are we involved with organizations that are important to the Black community? How much of our expertise are we sharing with Black-led organizations? Are we willing to make a multi-year commitment to Black-led organizations, providing them with funding, board members, mentors, and in-kind services? How do we make a meaningful impact on our customers, clients, and those we serve? Do we support our local Black newspapers, magazines, and radio stations with advertising, expertise and active partnership?
Assess how your organization treats its Black employees and board members. You have to look inside your own house before you go out into the community. This means asking questions about your organization. Ask for charts and numbers that show how Black employees are present – or absent – across different positions and salary ranges. Are there Black employees in meaningful positions? What does your board look like? What could it look like? Are employees encouraged and supported in volunteering and taking on leadership roles in the community?
Talk about money. Does your organization pay meaningful wages to employees at all levels? What about those in “entry level” positions? Are you providing incentives such as educational reimbursement for employees and family members? Are you providing healthcare, childcare, life insurance, retirement funding?
This is how Black history is made: people ask questions, create agendas, and then move those agendas to advance Black communities and others. Let’s make history.
[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. ]