DEI Resource Center FAQs

Nonprofit leaders and staff members typically have numerous questions about how to embark on a DEI journey that builds the organization’s DEI capacity.  Considering a few questions early on will assist nonprofit leaders in determining which journey to begin with.  

The questions below are a few that commonly arise.  These questions can be instructive for identifying useful informational resources to consider before starting a journey.

How important is it for leadership, staff members, and volunteers of the organization to understand DEI?

The nonprofit organization’s leadership and staff members might have varying perceptions of DEI within the organization.  They also may have different levels of familiarity with DEI concepts.  How important is it to encourage individual introspection before starting the DEI journey?  Is it possible to begin the organization’s DEI journey without establishing a common knowledge base that “level sets” an understanding of DEI principles and concepts among participating leadership and staff members?

Every person who works in a nonprofit brings intersectional identities, experiences, knowledge, and perspectives that influence and shape the organization.  Each person’s role within the organization contributes to achieving the nonprofit’s mission.  Board members, executives, staff members, and volunteers will be part of the DEI solution, or they have the potential to impede progress.  

One challenge for organizations seeking to embark on a DEI journey is that individuals might be unaware of their own biases and how they affect their work.  Another challenge is that individuals might not be aware of the value of DEI for the organization.  To address individual awareness and competencies, it is possible to encourage people to take advantage of individualized learning opportunities.

Implicit Association Test.  (2011).  Project Implicit.  The Implicit Association Test can be accessed online by individuals to learn about hidden biases they may harbor.  After completing any one of several tests, individuals receive a score and an explanation of what the score means.  As described on their website, “Project Implicit is a nonprofit organization and international collaborative of researchers who are interested in implicit social cognition.”  It aims “to educate the public about bias” and use data collected through its website to produce “high-impact research” about bias and disparities.  Learn more about Project Implicit by visiting

Individual Learning.  An initial step anyone can take is to decide to learn more about diversity, equity, inclusion and related concepts.  Information is widely available in multiple formats (e.g., webinars, publications, podcasts, etc.) and accessible largely at no cost.  By reading, participating in learning sessions (e.g., in-person trainings or virtual events, on-demand courses), it is possible to deepen one’s understanding of DEI.  New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility offer the NH Workplace Racial Equity Learning Challenge, a 21-day course offered at specific times each year for individuals and teams in the New Hampshire workforce community to engage in a remote learning experience with opportunities for dialog with fellow leaders across the state. The DEI Resource Center includes links to informational resources and references that can be useful for the DEI journey.  

Group Learning.  In New Hampshire, the Leadership Learning Exchange for Equity (L2E2), managed by New Hampshire Listens, offers an opportunity for allies in racial and social justice to participate in facilitated dialogues about DEI concepts.  Requity Labs at St. Anselm College is “a dynamic research center and consultancy established to translate social equity research into practices that make organizations resilient and that result in equitable community impact.” The consulting firm Organizational Ignition hosts virtual learning series on a range of DEI topics, including a “Discovering Performance through Diversity Series” offered throughout the year.  Nonprofits can send leaders or staff members to participate in a webinar series.  The NH Equity Collective offers multiple learning community and professional development opportunities that engage a nonprofit’s leadership, staff, and board members in understanding how to be effective in their mission-driven work.  Similarly, the Center for Cultural Effectiveness (based at the Southern NH AHEC) offers many cultural competency offerings and continuing education opportunities, and it houses the Equity Leaders Fellowship. 

Facilitated Professional Development & Training.  Nonprofit leaders seeking to engage their boards and/or staff members in DEI journeys tailored to their needs might identify a consulting firm to lead the entire organization in DEI professional development and training.  The Boston Foundation released an expanded version of its Racial Equity Capacity Building Directory in November 2020, prepared by Curdina Hill, Clearways Consulting & Coaching, and Molly Mead, Praxis Consulting Group.  The directory provides profiles of consultants in New England who assist nonprofit organizations in integrating equity and becoming more equitable.  The New England based firm Fletcher Consulting, founded by Marguerite Fletcher, J.D., offers workshops, presentations, cultural assessments, and strategic planning for diversity, equity, and inclusion, among other services.

Does it matter that my organization has tried to address DEI in the past but without success?

Organizations that have started on the DEI journey might have engaged DEI activities with various levels of success.  It is fine to acknowledge that the organization has been on a DEI journey.  Exploring different types of DEI opportunities is part of that journey.  It can be helpful to learn what works and what doesn’t work as well with various DEI opportunities your organization has tried.

If some staff members are cynical about embarking on the DEI journey yet again, then it will be important to address concerns and figure out what didn’t work well with prior activities.  Every journey will have ups and downs, and each individual will experience the journey differently.  The key will be to arrive at a place where DEI learning opportunities can be offered to all in the organization, with most members of the nonprofit agreeing to engage in organizational capacity building DEI efforts.  

The Culturally Effective Organizations (CEOrgs) Framework provides a road map for organizations seeking to examine and build their capacity for “delivering high quality services for all people, foundational on the path towards equity.”  

Is there a way to engage in DEI learning across multiple organizations, whether or not my organization is focusing on DEI?

New Hampshire is home to several associations and statewide initiatives .  Several of these efforts apply a collective impact framework or similar model that assembles organizations to engage in coordinated actions toward achieving a common social goal, usually one that is impossible to achieve without coordination with others.  Some of the participating partners are likely to have carried out their own DEI initiatives while others may not.  People from various positions within the partner organizations may represent their nonprofits in the shared space of the initiative, and as individuals their familiarity with DEI concepts will vary.  These initiatives often meet periodically, so shared time is limited.  It is possible to host foundational learning opportunities in these settings.  However, as collaborative work progresses, it differs from the work advanced by a single nonprofit organization.  To ensure that DEI learning opportunities are meaningful for participants in an effort involving multiple organizations, it is advisable to consider tailored professional development sessions.  Several relevant articles, such as Centering Equity in Collective Impact (2022)  Kania, John, et. al. are posted by Stanford Social Innovation Review with guidance specifically for collective impact initiatives.