Amplifying Racial Justice in COVID Times

Emily Wanderer

Companies have a unique opportunity to move the needle on social change by integrating Racial Justice into social impact programs. With the visibility of racial inequities in the wake of COVID, organizations need to prioritize integrating racial equity before the hashtags fall off the trending list. Here are a few strategies and resources that can be quickly applied in existing programs.

In Volunteering

Your employees don’t have to volunteer on their Saturday morning or dedicate hours to contribute positively to their communities. Even tiny acts of kindness contribute to a healthy sense of teamwork and positive work culture and can contribute to racial equity efforts.

Micro-volunteering can build the kindness muscles from home in just minutes and create real change for individuals globally. Here are a few such opportunities:

  • Translators without Borders – Polyglots, or those who speak another language other than English, can use this superpower for good in just minutes by helping translate medical documents and other texts for nonprofits around the world, making efforts more accessible and inclusive.
  • Missing Maps for OpenStreetMap – Cartophiles and techies alike can find purpose by helping to map resources and routes for organizations supporting disaster relief plans for the world’s most vulnerable populations, especially those hardest hit by global climate change.
  • Learning Ally – Audiobooks create new learning opportunities for the 1 in 5 Americans who have dyslexia—or the millions of others with learning differences and preferences. Ensuring all voices are represented, Learning Ally is particularly interested in multicultural voices that are underrepresented in the audio world including Black, Latinx voices and Spanish languages.

Another reason to make a tiny act of kindness a part of your program: studies show those who volunteer are more likely to become donors.

For an in-depth look at how Blackbaud has reimagined volunteering and service days in the wake of COVID, join ACCP on December 17th for the Blackbaud webcast “Rethinking Service Days”. To register:

In Giving

There are several strategies to ensure your giving is maximizing the positive impact on the communities you intend to serve.

  • Diversity in Leadership – Ensure you are funding organizations led by the communities for which they work. This contrasts with organizations working for communities which often cause unintended and detrimental consequences by reproducing the very inequity they aim to solve. You can build in check points using resources including Racial Equity Tools for philanthropy to ensure you are giving to organizations that are led by BIPOC communities.
  • Unrestricted Giving – Individual and corporate donations are often allocated toward a certain program; however, unrestricted giving- especially to small organizations- is critical during this difficult time to pivot and allocate resources quickly toward the needs of the community.

Being flexible and purposeful with dollars isn’t the only way companies should support their nonprofit partners; identifying the ways in which companies are strategically positioned to benefit organizations can save valuable resources and benefit communities of color.

Beyond Traditional CSR

Moving beyond giving and volunteering initiatives is critical for companies who want to achieve ESG or social index goals, as well as those maximizing impact toward global efforts like the SDGs.

  • CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion – Our friends at PwC took up this pledge for CEOs to commit to specific ACTION toward inclusive workplaces, societies, and communities including sharing DEI plans with Boards of Directors and promoting difficult conversations around race in the workplace.
  • Pledge 1% – Is a great place for technology start-ups (and others) to begin to give back using their products and services. As they say, ‘you can’t manage what you don’t measure.’ So, in addition to measuring that 1%, you can add in KPIs around the leadership diversity of the organizations you support.
  • 15% Pledge – Aurora James, a Black, Brooklyn-based designer, launched a movement asking retailers to commit 15% of their shelf space to Black-owned businesses and creatives—the same percent of the U.S. population made up by individuals who identify as Black.

If we integrate racial equity into all aspects of our work as corporate social impact professionals, it will not fade as simply a philanthropic trend, but rather remain as part of the critical structure of change-making.

Companies have the capacity to be a huge force for good; don’t let perfection be the enemy of good. Start somewhere, be open to feedback, consistently iterate on your strategy, and share what works (and more importantly, what doesn’t) with others.

Emily Wanderer is a Senior Account Executive with YourCause (powered by Blackbaud). 

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