Like every nonprofit, your organization has a specific mission to address targeted areas of need in your community. But part of that mission must be to achieve equitable outcomes among the diverse individuals who benefit from your programs. Inequities, or unfair differences created by poor policy, corruption, or cultural prejudice need to be identified and addressed. Mitigating inequities requires you and your team to have an intentional focus and the right tools.
Focusing on Equity
One example of focusing on equity is the COVID-19 Minority Health Strike Force created in Ohio in 2020. In only a few weeks at the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic, it became increasingly obvious that there was a stark disparity between how black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) were negatively affected by the pandemic, as compared to the general population. For example, 13% of the population of Ohio identifies as black, but black individuals made up 26% of COVID-19 cases, 31% of hospitalizations, and 19% of deaths by June 2020.
As a response to this disparity, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine called for a task force to be assembled in order to discover and address the obvious inequity. The fifty-two task force members, who came from both public and private areas of expertise, discovered that the disparity in outcomes came from existing inequities that were highlighted and magnified by the COVID-19 Pandemic.
As part of their findings, the task force published a list of thirty-four actionable strategies to improve equitable outcomes. These include strategies intended to dismantle racism, reduce discrimination and increase diversity, improve access to education, and increase affordable housing, among other goals.
Another example is the Federal Government’s Equitable Data Working Group. One of the first executive orders signed by President Biden after taking office in January 2021 created a task force to focus on equity. The “Equity EO” sought to “to understand the impact of federal policies on equity outcomes.” As part of this initiative, the task force determined that disaggregated data, meaning data that includes detailed demographic information, is essential for understanding equity. Without the ability to analyze data by race, gender, disability, veteran status, etc., there is no possible way to understand how programs are affecting specific demographics and communities.
Equity at Nonprofits
Like these government programs, achieving equitable outcomes as part of the mission of your nonprofit requires intentional effort to understand and address existing inequities. Your organization can address inequity on two different levels. The first is in the diversity of your leadership and team members. Diversity in nonprofit teams improves equitable outcomes in two ways. First, it reverses inequities in employment and leadership roles for BIPOC and other minorities. Second, diversity provides essential perspectives and experiences that can help your team determine the best ways to address the inequity in your communities and the demographics you serve.
Addressing inequities also requires identifying them, and for that you need reliable and accurate data. In order to have access to the disaggregated data necessary for tracking outcomes by specific demographics, you must start by tracking the necessary metrics. Key indicators such as race, sexual orientation, education levels, and health histories provide you insight into where your programs may have unintentional inequities that need addressing. They may also help you identify where you can address and mitigate the inequities created by others.
Collaborating for Equitable Outcomes
Tracking key indicators for your own nonprofit is important, but achieving true equitable outcomes requires collaboration. Organizations within the same community do the most good when you work with each other to provide whole-person service coordination. For example, if your nonprofit focuses on employment, you will increase your overall impact if you team up with organizations that provide childcare and education.
Collaborating to track, analyze, and share disaggregated demographic data starts with standardizing indicators and collection methods. Consistent methods and tools allow you, your funders, and your non-profit partners a broader view of what is happening in your communities and how you can identify and mitigate inequities, leading to more equitable outcomes.
SureImpact is an impact management platform that gives foundations and their non-profit partners the ability to clearly define what and how it measures equity outcomes across the ecosystem. Stakeholders have access to dashboards with disaggregated, client-level data that enables them to quickly and accurately assess complex problems and individual needs, and view demographic data with an equity lens. To learn more, download our free eBook “Expanding Your Social Impact: A Guide for Transforming Your Organization.”