The Ally: September 2020 – Ellen Collins

Ellen Collins
The MS Alliance of Nonprofits and Philanthropy

An Inclusive Approach

The Mississippi Alliance of Nonprofits and Philanthropy grew out of the vision that nonprofits and philanthropy working together can drastically improve the lives of the people and communities of Mississippi.  At the center of this vision are the core values that drive our approach.  These include diversity, inclusion, transparency, innovation, collaboration, use of best practices, and a focus on quality.

However, on May 25, 2020, the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis brought to our consciousness that merely stating commitments to diversity and inclusion is not enough. We, the Alliance Board and staff, must do more so that we demonstrate these values with the appropriate action.  Diversity, inclusion, and racial equity must be integrated into our operations.  We must be willing to examine our own internal culture and practices and hold ourselves accountable for making the necessary changes that will ultimately move the work of the Alliance and our members forward.

Our first step was to issue a public commitment to address diversity, equity, and inclusion intentionally and strategically (click here to read the statement). The next step was to follow up that statement with concrete and sustainable short and long-term action steps and goals. Examining our value statement on diversity, equity, and inclusion and aligning it with measurable indicators and benchmarks will enable us to track changes over time.  We will also perform an internal equity audit to assess our operating policies and procedures.  This assessment will review our procurement of vendors and contracts, recruitment and hiring policies, personnel policies, member dues structure, training costs, and review of our tools and curriculums.  We want to “walk the talk” that we speak and not make empty promises.

Of course, we cannot do this work alone.  We will look to you, our members and partners in this effort, to hold us accountable to these goals.  We ask that you support us and each other as we work to better ourselves and our understanding of what it really means to apply a racial equity lens to our work and to examine negative experiences associated with gender, class, and other prejudices.  We will seek your input as we further define our short and long-term goals.  Our collective knowledge and experience will help to transform our communities and, thus, our state. We can create a society where everyone has access to opportunities.   This is our moment; let us not waste it.