Originally published on NonProfit PRO by Nhu Te

In today’s changing climate, it’s important for nonprofits to consider equity, to not only improve the nonprofit on how they serve their community, but to promote that the nonprofit understands it, as well. But here’s a thought: It’s more than just diversity and inclusion. Oftentimes, equity is tied with diversity and inclusion—diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI)—but it’s so much more than that.

The Health Equity Institute defines health equity as, “…attainment of the highest level of health for all people. Health equity means efforts to ensure that all people have full and equal access to opportunities that enable them to lead healthy lives.” The part that stands out in the definition is “… ensure that people have full and equal access to opportunities that enable them to lead healthy lives.

This couldn’t be truer in the nonprofit sector. But if you’re still confused, wondering what this has anything to do with managing a nonprofit, GHJ said in a white paper that they released last year that equity helps serve the most basic needs of nonprofits, and it’s a means for nonprofits to create messaging that can be used to help match granter expectations, which not only getting more specific, but also more organizations are looking for their support.

In an exclusive interview with NonProfit PRO, Donella Wilson, partner and nonprofit practice leader of GHJ, explains that there is no clear definition of equity in the nonprofit sector. Wilson is a board member at the Downtown Women’s Center, and she explains that equity, to the Downtown Women’s Center, is meeting every woman where they are at, focusing on the individual recognizing that everyone has had different experiences, and tearing down programs to meet their needs.

“Every organization needs to define what equity means for them and their service delivery, and how they engage with their funders, their communities and volunteers—and likewise, the funders themselves have to think about what that means for the in terms of their giving,” Wilson said.

It’s especially harder for nonprofits serving lower income communities because measuring impact is difficult; it’s difficult to showcase impact in these communities because it takes a long time for that impact to be felt or witnessed.

“For nonprofit organizations that are trying provide very critical and much-needed services into low-income communities, it’s really crucial that they provide because most of those communities are under-resourced. Local funders are looking and targeting those local communities. They’re thinking about an equity lens. And that something that the community needs to think about—what their needs are and looking at internal resources and approaching funders with that in mind,” Wilson said.

Wilson Donella halfbody

Donella Wilson

Donella Wilson, CPA, leads GHJ’s Nonprofit Practice and is also President and Chief Philanthropy Officer of GHJ Foundation, GHJ’s vehicle for purposeful and proactive giving to the community. A leader in both the nonprofit and accounting communities, Donella was named a finalist in the 2021 Los…Learn More