Board Chairs and Board Members

Board members have an exceptional opportunity to be change agents. As both insiders and outsiders, board members are able to insist that DEI be an organizational priority, and are in a position to defend staff from any manner of offenses like those experienced by this study’s respondents. If the development field is ever to challenge its hierarchical nature in which donors and board members are uncritically validated, board members have a key role to play in enabling that transformation.

  • Invest and participate in organization-wide DEI training and mandate the creation of board-specific DEI policies that provide oversight to ensure that policies are being implemented and embedded into the organizational culture. Be a forceful advocate internally for DEI.
  • Actively commit to board diversity and take the necessary steps to identify board members who come from diverse backgrounds, particularly people of color.
  • Take personal responsibility for educating yourself on DEI issues. Don’t rely on people of color in the organization to be your guide – that is not their job.
  • Be an ally at the board table and with donors. As a board member, you are a bridge between the organization and donors who may or may not be aware of the biases they carry.
  • Try to anticipate difficult fundraising situations and support development staff of color in reacting to uncomfortable moments. If you are bringing a donor/prospect to the organization who may not be as far along on the spectrum of allyship as you or others, talk it over with the executive director and development staff ahead of time to prepare for what might occur – and to get their input on how to proceed. From your seat of power, support staff leadership.

Return to the list of Recommendations


  • NYCT
  • JP Morgan
    JP Morgan
  • NYC 276
    NYC 276
  • Altman
  • Kramer Levin
  • Robinhood
  • William Casper Graustein
    William Casper Graustein
  • The New York Women's Foundation

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