Program Recap: Practicing Inclusivity in Donor Relations and Stewardship

All who attended the WIDGB event on December 14, 2021, were really gifted a gift! What a professional honor, luggage of tips, and simply a treat in Donor Relations and Stewardship as discussed through the lens of diversity and embracing differences that awaited us! 


Yolanda Johnson from the non-profit sector with a wealth of experience including running her own companies, being the first African American President in the 40-year history of WID-NY, working for the Obama Foundation, and with a background in performance, brought her broad perspective about the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) movement by engaging the audience in a lively discussion around what she re-phrased is IDE: inclusivity, diversity, and equity.  She explained vividly that in development, at least, we first need to be inclusive before we can talk about diversity and equity, then we can focus on the full version of IDE.    

Cheryl Katon, Vice President of Resource Development and Donor Engagement at Fenway Health, rounded out the discussions, presentations, experiences, and visions from Yolanda, with her personal and professional views from that of a white, first as an openly bi-gender individual and now as a fully trans individual with a female identity. She discussed issues around community health but also around the trans community.  Cheryl holds the enormous position of Vice President of Resource Development and Donor Engagement at Fenway Health, a community health agency in urban Boston serving the community that in many ways she personally represents. She explained how to reach out to families and individuals who might be experiencing a vast range of the same issues while also cultivating them as future donors.  

Both individuals gave “tips from the trades.” For example, Yolanda spoke about the need now more than ever to kept great notes in your CRM.  She reminded us: Do you know your donors?  Keep personal notes and use them. They care and will notice.  Make sure to follow up with sending newsletters or notes about where their money was spent.  

Most importantly, both speakers highlighted the issue of the day’s topic: Practicing Inclusivity in Donor Relations and Stewardship.  In one brief hour, it was like taking courses in human relations, civil rights, development, public speaking and so much more!  Both speakers spoke passionately about their career trajectories and how they became who they became.  What does inclusivity look like in your agency?  How can you improve it and make it authentic?  Donors will want a statement of your inclusive commitment.  This was a major take away highlight!  Have that statement prepared!

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