Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Panel Urges Nonprofits to Recruit More Minority Board Members and Volunteers

The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation recently concluded its annual legislative conference weekend in Washington, D.C.  The Foundation, a nonprofit, held its 39th Annual Legislative Conference from September 23 through September 26, 2009.  The legislative conference features numerous workshops and sessions on a range of topics.  Nonprofit organizations and the increasing demand for services in light of the recession was discussed.  Nonprofits were urged to seek more diverse volunteers and to include these volunteers on boards and in other key decision-making positions.  In earlier blogs on this website, we discussed calls out of California to legislate diversity on boards of nonprofits.  While the CBC panel was not advocating legislation, the discussion reflects an increasing desire for greater inclusion of diverse voices in the realm of nonprofit governance and leadership.  Below is an excerpt of an article reported in the Chronicle of Philanthropy on September 24, 2009 about this event:

With 9.7 percent of American workers unemployed—a figure that will probably hit 10 percent “and linger there until sometime next year“—demand for the services charities provide will continue to increase, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, Democrat of Missouri, told an audience here today at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 39th Annual Legislative Conference.

And, said nonprofit leaders speaking at a session, those urgent needs mean it’s more important than ever for organizations to include minorities, including African Americans, among their managers and board members, despite the recruiting challenges the recession brings.

“If you are serving people to lift them up, or you’re an advocate or voice for them, it’s really important that you practice what you preach,” said Marc H. Morial, president of the National Urban League, a civil-rights organization in New York.

The panelists—which also included Willie Iles, White House liaison for the Boy Scouts of America, which maintains headquarters in Irving, Tex.; Irv Katz, head of the National Human Services Assembly, a coalition of social-service groups; and Joyce M. Roché, chief executive of Girls Inc., a national youth group in New York—said that low compensation, neglect of the role of volunteers, and insufficient knowledge of the nonprofit field by job seekers who are minorities are among the factors that hinder greater inclusion.

Mr. Iles urged listeners to seek volunteers who are passionate about a charity’s cause, and give those people roles on boards and other decision-making bodies. He said nonprofit groups need to be more aggressive about seeking out supporters, holding up a copy of the conference’s program as an example.

For the full story, please click here.

The article also discusses the recently enacted Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act and the high priority that President Obama (click here for more information) places on volunteer service.  Nonprofits were encouraged not to miss the opportunity to increase volunteer pools and to seize the moment.  Additionally, the article discusses how to best recruit and retain diverse top nonprofit leadership talent and the associated challenges.


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