Benefits of Being Inclusive

Inclusiveness Can Help Nonprofits Be More Effective and Better Serve Their Constituents and Communities
Nonprofits are in the business of making their communities healthier, stronger, and more enriching for all members. Whether they are involved in health care, the arts, civil rights, religious activities, or any other worthwhile charitable cause, nonprofits influence the quality of life for people in the communities they serve.

People, by their very nature, experience many aspects of life, from health care to the arts, differently. One of the primary reasons that people experience life differently is because they have different cultural backgrounds. Therefore, when developing their programs and services, nonprofit organizations must take these cultural backgrounds and experiences into consideration in order to have a positive influence on the communities they serve.

Creating an Inclusive Workplace is Good for Business
Demographic shifts currently taking place in the United States are changing the makeup of the communities nonprofits serve. By the year 2050, it is expected that the Hispanic and Asian populations will triple, and that approximately half of the U.S. population will be people of color. (See Bibliography: U.S. Census Bureau) The term "people of color" is used in The Denver Foundation materials to refer collectively to African Americans, American Indians and Alaska Natives, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Hispanic/Latino Americans, multiracial individuals, and all other persons who are not categorized as white by the U.S. Census.

In general, this means that many nonprofits will need to become more knowledgeable about how communities of color experience their work. If nonprofits continue to base their plans and decisions on unexamined assumptions about their communities that may no longer be accurate, chances are high that their work will become less effective and less relevant, given demographic changes.

Many corporations have discovered and a great deal of research has proven that creating an inclusive workplace is good for business. This adage may even be truer for nonprofits than for corporations. Nonprofits generally have lower pay scales than their corporate counterparts. The staff and volunteers of nonprofits join because they receive personal satisfaction from working with nonprofits. When financial incentive is removed as a key factor in staff and board retention, then creating a healthy work environment becomes even more important.

Some of the benefits of creating a more inclusive organization include (See Bibliography: Cox):

  • Higher job satisfaction, especially among staff of color.
  • Lower turnover.
  • Higher productivity.
  • Higher employee morale.
  • Improved problem solving throughout the organization.
  • Increased creativity and innovation.
  • Increased organizational flexibility and ability to learn from people at all levels.
  • Improving the quality of personnel through better recruitment and retention.
  • Decreased vulnerability to legal challenges.

Other business-related reasons to become more inclusive include the potential to tap into new donor pools, improve program delivery, and reach out to new clients or audiences.