Grant Funder Stewardship is All About Relationships... But with an Eye on DEI w/ Scot Scala

Reviewed by:

No items found.


July 21, 2022

Last Updated:

September 16, 2022

If your relationship with potential funders focuses only on the grant application, you are missing a powerful advantage for securing funds and sustaining your programs: A culture of diversity, equality and inclusion.

​In this webinar you will learn how your keen awareness— and planning— can make all the difference in presenting not just the value of your program but personal and organizational values that resonate with funders. Grant professional, Scot Scala will explain how to use a hyper-focus on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) to improve the strength and duration of grant-funder relationships.

By the end of this one-hour workshop, you’ll learn:

  • ​What DEI means to grant making and the grant professional
  • ​How to communicate a DEI culture to grant funders
  • ​The role of grant professionals in grant-funder stewardship
  • ​How (and why) to stay hyper-focused on incorporating DEI into stewardship efforts
  • ​How to customize a relationship-building strategy for grant funders
  • ​Pitfalls in communicating DEI and how to avoid them

​You will come away from this webinar with strategies you can put into practice immediately to make the difference in securing funds to sustain your organization and its programs.

Never tried Instrumentl?

Find and win more grants for your nonprofit!
Start saving 3 hours a week and increase your grant applications by 78%.

Try 14-days free

Create your Instrumentl account using the link above. Save $50 off your first month should you decide to upgrade when your trial expires with the code SCALA50.

Scot Scala, GPC, M.Ed., and GPA Approved Trainer. Scot Scala has been a grant and fund development professional since 1987. He is President and Senior Consultant of Scala & Associates, a consulting firm specializing in providing services to nonprofit organizations. With offices in Connecticut and Florida, the firm offers expertise in grant funding research and proposal design, training and education, fund development planning, and capacity building. He is Grant Professionals Certified [GPC], an Approved Trainer, and an award-winning consultant who has helped organizations fulfill their missions through successful fund development, including $113,000,000+ in grants.

​Scot’s work engages him with clientele from throughout the United States, as well as Uganda, Mexico, and in particular, Haiti where he conducts mission work in support of K-12 education and nutrition programs. He is a highly regarded speaker who frequently presents top-rated workshops to regional, national, and international groups such as the Grant Professionals Association, Association of Fundraising Professionals, Soroptimist International of the Americas, Chambers of Commerce, and an array of nonprofit organizations. He is currently an instructor for Thompson Grants and the Grant Professionals Association ‘Next Level’ Training Series. In 2019, Scot and his wife established the Scot & Tracy Scala Grant Professionals Association Early Career Membership Scholarship. The scholarship supports individuals who are early in their grant careers and interested in furthering their professional development.

Instrumentl Partner Webinars are collaborations between Instrumentl and its community partners to provide free educational workshops for grant professionals. Our goal is to tackle a problem grant professionals often have to solve, while also sharing different ways Instrumentl’s platform can help grant writers win more grants. Click here to save a seat in our next workshop.

Click the video link below to start watching the replay of this free grant workshop, or check out the transcriptions below the video.

Instrumentl Partner Workshop Replay

Instrumentl Partner Workshop Slides

Click to find the best grants for your nonprofit from active opportunities.

Search 150+ subcategories

Explore More Grants

Grant Funder Stewardship is All About Relationships... But with an Eye on DEI - Grant Training Transcription

Celia: Hi everyone and welcome. This is Grant Funder Stewardship is All About Relationships… But with an Eye on DEI with Scot Scala. This workshop is being recorded and slides will be shared afterward. So definitely keep your eyes peeled for a follow-up email from me, in case you want to review any of that or share it with any of your colleagues. If you haven't already, please go ahead and share your name and organization in the chat and where you're calling in from, and a little bit about what DEI actions your organization is already taking, if any. We also have a really fun poll that I'm going to go ahead and launch as we, kind of, get started here and I finish up. Oh, no, we don't. I don't know what happened to it. I think we'll talk about these questions in a bit. So no worries about that. 

But I am Celia, if this is your first time here, welcome. This is a free grant workshop. And it is part of our Instrumentl partner webinar series. So these are collaborations between Instrumentl and our community partners to provide free educational workshops for grant professionals and nonprofits. And our goal is to tackle a problem that grant professionals have or nonprofits, in general, have and share some different ways to think about them and solve them. And along the way, I will tell you a little bit about Instrumentl kind of how we work how we tackle some of these issues, and some different ways that nonprofits and grant writers can use it to bring a little bit of efficiency and speed to their process. 

If you're not familiar with Instrumentl, we are a grant prospecting, tracking, and management tool. We bring all that under one roof and save people tons of time while increasing their grant output. So when we get to the place where I'm going to talk a little bit about Instrumentl, feel free to follow along with me, I'm going to drop a link here in the chat. This gives you 14 days free on the platform, and we're actually offering our standard plan which has got a few more extra features. So if you've been putting it off, this might be a good time to start your free trial. And then definitely stick with us to the end, we are raffling off a really awesome prize, thanks to Scot. So you'll definitely want to stick with us till the end, and we will also have a Q & A at the end. So it's another reason to stick with us until the end. 

If you have a question throughout, definitely drop it in the chat. Use three hashtags ahead of that just so that I can find them and make sure I don't miss your question during the presentation. So with all that housekeeping out of the way, I am very excited to introduce our speaker today. Scot Scala is a GPC and GPA Approved Trainer. He has been a part of grant and fund development since 1987. He now leads Scala & Associates, a consulting firm that offers nonprofits expertise in grant funding research and proposal design, training and education, fund development planning, and capacity building. Scot is also an avid speaker, so you'll probably see him out there on the circuit. And he's also an instructor for Thompson Grants and The Grant Professionals Association's 'Next Level' Training Series. 

So you may have seen him there as well. If that's not enough to do, in 2019, Scot and his wife established the Scot and Tracy Scala Grant Professionals Association Early Career Membership Scholarship. And so this is a scholarship that supports individuals who are early in their grant careers and interested in learning further about professional development. So, Scot, thank you so much for being here. We're really excited to hear what you have to say, and I will pass the mic to you. 

Scot: Very good, Celia. I appreciate it. And again, everybody, welcome. It's a pleasure to be presenting to you today because I cannot monitor the chat box from my screen view. Celia will do a good job of monitoring that. And Celia, feel free if we have some pointed questions to stop me during one of our natural pauses, in the course of the hour, and I'll be happy to take a question or two. All right and certainly at the end. So again, folks, Grant Funders Stewardship is all about relationships but with an eye on DEI. So this is a twist on the topic of stewarding the grant funder because it hones in on diversity, equity, and inclusion. This session is not about planning for diversity, equity, and inclusion. I heard Celia say that somebody had just come through a strategic planning process that incorporated this. 

This is really about how we best communicate to stewards and cultivate the relationship with grant funders, but always being cognizant of diversity, equity, and inclusion. I'm going to take you through, kind of, the full breadth continuum of what we as development and grant professionals need to know about the process. And I'll tell you about my take on all of this. We are grant professionals and development professionals even if we're not treated as such "leaders" in the nonprofit sector because we have our finger on the pulse of what's happening in the community. Do we not? We interface with high net worth donors. We interface with people who represent charitable foundations, actually all types of foundations, even government grant tours, and so forth. 

People who have the power, the opportunity, and the leverage to help us make things happen. That is a leader. So I think that we as grant professionals and development professionals should be always invited to the table regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion. And that is the underpinning for this entire session. I want all of us to be part of the process, and I'm going to help you work through that over the next 45 minutes to an hour. The first thing we have to do is define diversity, equity, and inclusion. And I have simplified it to the best of my ability based on the information of the resources that I have access to. So I think I have a pretty good handle on it. With that, I'm going to tell you a story that hopefully will pull it all together as to why I'm the one sitting in this seat talking about this topic. 

Number two, why does DEI matter for nonprofit organizations? Why does DEI matter for the grant professional? And, of course, many of us fall under the umbrella of development. So that umbrella still fits here. You may very well do other things beyond grants but we’re going to hone in on those who really work with the grant sector. We'll look at the best practices for fostering and communicating a DEI culture within the organization, and how to then best communicate that externally. And lastly, pitfalls to avoid and communicating DEI. Some of the things you really have to watch out for that can trip us up. Well, here are three questions, one of which Celia mentioned at the start. But even if you don't incorporate it into the chat box now, I invite you to incorporate some responses. 

Think about this, maybe to stimulate some questions for our Q&A time. For instance, do you know what if any DEI actions are taking place at your organization? Have you yet to embark on a DEI process but you're talking about it? Have you just completed one? Are you in the throes of one now? Or is this not even a topic of conversation at your organization? Wherever you are in that process, this presentation can help you because there will be things that you can absolutely apply in the workplace immediately following this session. And that's what I like to impart is, you know, several things that you could take right away and implement in your workplace. Two, to what extent are you, you, the grant professional/development professional, involved in DEI matters? Think about that. I'd like to know. 

And how do you communicate DEI in your grants, and or to the grant funder? If it's just verbally or in some other written form of communication, if not a grant application. So I start here, and anyone who has ever gone to one of my trainings, whether in person or via webinar knows that in just about every presentation, I talked about mission and values, your DEI efforts are no exception to that rule. Everything that you convey must be grounded in mission values. Any effort that you have that veers off course of mission and values is not worth pursuing. DEI and the communication of it, the planning and so forth, but more so certainly the communication about where you are in that process of the continuum is what I consider an All-Hands-On-Deck process, everybody should be concerned about it. 

And again, I'll say this several times, I'm going to say it again now, I want you as the development/grant professional to be invited to participate in that process. And these are going to be some strategies for you. That's where the strategic actions happen. DEI just doesn't create itself. It takes forward thinking. It takes mindful articulation, and it takes a process of many people coming together to really change the culture of the organization. And for you, as the grant professional/development professional to be immersed in that culture of change. That's what I want for you. I want you to be immersed in that culture of change because you are a change maker. You're doing that through your philanthropic work with grant tours and other philanthropic groups to change the culture of the organization with an eye on DEI. 

And this is where I share a brief story with you, and I will keep it to three minutes or less. You know, I rarely incorporate anything about me in my presentations, personally. I talk about professionally, best practices, and things that I've experienced and seen on the job. But for this presentation, I take you back to a year ago, when I was just putting together the bones, kind of, framing out what I wanted this to look like. So it's been a work in progress for many months. And I was sitting down to lunch with a colleague of mine, who I've known for 15 years, he and I have lunch together, standing appointment every quarter. And I mentioned to him, I said, “You know, Dennis, I am planning this presentation on diversity, equity, and inclusion.” I went into some further detail. And my good friend Dennis said, “What could you possibly have to contribute to the topic of DEI?” And I knew exactly what he meant. What could this, you know, 50+-year-old white man from Connecticut possibly have to say about this topic? 

And I said, Dennis, let me tell you a story about my upbringing in Brooklyn, New York. I grew up in a very unique environment. I grew up in an environment in Borough Park, Brooklyn—if any of you know New York, the Boroughs—Borough Park, Brooklyn, in the mid to late 1960s and into the 1970s. That was a fascinating culture. Talking about culture, right? The culture was largely… in fact, almost exclusively comprised of families that had emigrated from other countries, regardless of what countries those were. So coming from what was certainly then a large Italian family, my grandparents, great-grandparents, everyone lived with us or close to us, you know, extended family had come from Sicily. Next door to us was a Greek Orthodox family. Greek was spoken in their home as fluently as Italian was spoken in our home. 

Next door, the other side of these brownstones, if you know New York, was a Hasidic Jewish family. And then down the street was a family that had come from Africa, had come from the Congo. And I mentioned these three other families in particular because my good friend from the Greek family was Peter, and my good friend from the Hasidic Jewish family was Yesil. And my good friend from the Congo family from Congo was Lester. So Lester and Peter and Yesil and I, can you picture this, we’re the best of friends. We existed, coexisted in an environment that was so unusual and so unique. We were all coming from different backgrounds, but it didn't matter much. 

Yesil's family owns the produce store on the corner. Lester's family own the toy shop. That was a block and a half down the road where my grandparents would take me to buy Matchbox cars, and toys, and things. And both our family and Peter's family were in business, in Brooklyn, retail business. It didn't matter much, there were no riots, there were no problems, and we could be out at all hours safely in the streets. And my mother once said, you know, it's because we all had a common goal. All these families had a common goal, and that was to build a life. So I share this story with you because it was a fascinating childhood that taught me at a very early age the value of the culture, of the environment in which we're in. So it could be personally the environment that you live in, or it could be professionally, which is really what we're talking about today. So that sense of belonging, that sense of all coming together around a common goal is the culture that I wish for all of you. 

And frankly, for myself, when I work with clients. That is what all of these DEI efforts will hopefully lead to this wonderful cohesive culture that even today in that neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. It no longer exists, unfortunately. It has become more separated. But it was a wonderful thing that I shared with folks today. And I'll wrap up at the end with a little snippet of how it, kind of, came full circle for me not that long ago. So moving on to diversity, equity, and inclusion. What does it really mean? Let's understand it before we talk about how we use it in the workplace. There's a lot here, but let me tell you, I look not just for what I can bring to you, but what sources I can gather from outside of my immediate world to help to validate with some more narrative and some more information.

And I searched, and I found a wonderful DEI statement from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, NACE. I'm just going to read the top section. And I share this with you because it seems to be all-encompassing and quite comprehensive. “NACE believes in a world that is inclusive in approach and where equal opportunities and equitable outcomes exist for all. NACE fosters inclusive and equitable practices for all its members and draws on their varied strengths and perspectives.” And we have bolded that because that is at the core of the statement. Whatever your DEI statement is and whatever it is you have to communicate should draw on the varied strengths and perspectives of your individual organization. 

And if you were to read on, you would see that with NACE, they discuss a variety of things here: from ethnicity, to race, to differences in ability, disability, age, and on and on all the way to religious, non-religious, and even various local state, regional groups, and so forth. There's this all-encompassing. So consider that as maybe the basis for you to develop your own. And if your organization already has one, maybe just wait against what else is out there if you haven't done that already. 

Now I'm going to break down diversity, equity, and inclusion separately. We looked at the big picture, a snapshot of the big picture, and now I'm going to break it down separately. Diversity is the presence of differences that may include and here are just a few: race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and on and on. Diversity is many things. This list could very well continue and should. It is not just one thing. It's not just about the color of our skin or about religion, or about ability or disability. It's everything. And we know that, don't we? In the nonprofit sector, at least we should know that diversity is all-encompassing. 

Equity is promoting justice, impartiality, and fairness within the procedures, processes, and distribution of resources by institutions or systems. So I'm making this specific to our sector. Honing in on the procedures, the processes, and distribution of resources. Not necessarily all things that you, in development and as grant professionals need to be implementing, but you should be aware of it. Be aware of what the DEI processes are with human resources, particularly if you're well, really of any organization. But certainly, if you're a larger organization, I'm sure you have the human resources department, universities, colleges, hospitals, and larger nonprofits. Some of the smaller ones don't. And that's where you might have to dig a little deeper to get that information. 

And what processes do you have for equity and employment hiring? You don't have to implement it and be the HR person to understand it. I want you to at least understand it because to understand it one can then talk about it. More and more applications, grant applications, and communications with funders—I'm going through this right now with a couple of clients—are asking about the process and the procedures that exist to really sustain diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. 

And inclusion, it's an outcome. Inclusion is the end result. Think of it that way. To ensure that those that are diverse actually feel and/or are welcome. Inclusion outcomes are met when you, your Institution—so you, meaning, personnel, staff—your institution and your program are truly inviting to all. So let's look at that again. Take that in. When your outcomes for inclusion are met, when you, meaning you, your staff, so forth. The people, represented by the organization. The organization itself and the program of programs are truly inviting to all. That in of itself may give leadership enough to think about and the board to think about when it comes to where they are at with inclusion. I included this wonderful quote from Vernā Myers, "Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance." Diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance. 

So why does DEI matter for nonprofits? It's certainly not exclusive to the for-profit sector. It shouldn't be and not enough nonprofits I have found are paying close enough attention to DEI. Well, I looked at the National Council of Nonprofits and they actually have a statement about it. So just read this along with me if you would. They say that “We believe that embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion as organizational values is a way to intentionally,” this doesn't happen by accident, “intentionally make space for positive outcomes to flourish. Whether in direct services or the nonprofit capacity or public policy spheres. We urge each nonprofit,” and we've underlined this, “to articulate,” again, you saw this a moment ago, “articulate its own values and be guided by them.” 

There's no cookie-cutter process here. It must be completely unique to your organization. And I will share with you right now that a couple of years ago, I was working with a very large, very large, in fact, one of the largest in the Northeast, child service type of organizations. I won't mention the name. And the CEO, a pretty intelligent man, otherwise said to me, “You know, Scot, DEI, it's really a publicity stunt, isn't it?” And I said, “No. Publicity? This is not a publicity stunt. This is we're dealing with people, we're dealing with your constituents, we're dealing with, you know, really creating a balanced organization.” And I laid this out for him over the course of many meetings. And I think, finally, it sunk in. 

So, unfortunately, there is that take on it that some people truly just don't get it. But don't let that dissuade you, it didn't dissuade me, and you can through best practices and many of the things I'm sharing with you today foster that change. Again, I want you to be the voice for that change if nothing else to foster some change whether you're almost there on your way or not. Let's talk a bit more about culture. And I'm going to get right into some specifics about what you can be doing to communicate this and to foster that very change I just mentioned. So we're going to explore further these subcomponents. What is truly a DEI culture, and why is it important? Why is it important to you? And why is it important to the nonprofit sector? What is cultural awareness? And why is it important? How can we achieve and communicate cultural awareness? We're communicators. We're writing all the time. 

We're communicating all the time as grant professionals and development professionals. And why did grant makers, the other side, care about our DEI culture? What's their interest in us related to DEI? Well, to start with, culture and cultural DEI in the nonprofit sector, or workplace provides strength. As strong as your organization may be or thinks it is, I promise you that a well-crafted DEI plan, and there are those presentations and those specialists out there who can help you with that only will show strength to your organization. Your trick is to articulate that. So I'm taking you through various models here so you can better understand how to craft those messages. It also challenges individuals to respond to their diverse work environment effectively. I'll give you an example of that in a moment. Valuing individual and group cultural differences is critical to achieving mission-based, there we go again, with mission-based organizational goals and creating a better culture. 

So coming back to that top bullet, which ties into the bullet on the bottom related to culture, respond to their diverse work environment, effectively, I have a wonderful client who has a residential, very, very large footprint, many acres, residential community of 101 apartments for people with more profound physical disabilities who live a semi-independent life, a wonderful environment. They made a concentrated effort to incorporate a significant percentage of their board of directors and other subcommittees with people representing that very population, whether they come from within the organization as residents or from outside the organization. But to be able to put on your board and actually invite, welcome your board because that the DEI culture is there, include that representative of the population serve with more profound physical disabilities to the table at the board meeting, at the subcommittee meetings, the development committee meetings, is a wonderful thing for the organization, its mission, and for the very people served by it. 

And who wouldn't want to write about that in an application? I certainly would. It's a wonderful message to convey. It really is and it certainly speaks to the culture. So there's an example of ways to do that. Another group of mine that I work with is a homeless shelter and they do something very simple to invite one or two people who have come through shelter, because it's a finite period of time there to participate with the organization in developing evaluations, in developing DEI plans, developing any number of problematic types of programming adjustments and so forth. They involve the very population served in the process that speaks to the DEI. So I always say it's everybody's business. Well, let's break that down a bit. The population the organization seeks to serve. I just gave you an example. Who better to incorporate if it's feasible? 

The population served. I don't care if you work with a shelter. If you work with women who are victims of domestic violence, you can see if it's appropriate to invite some of those people. People who have maybe come through critical care, some type of long-term rehabilitation, whatever your situation is, children who have graduated through a program and now are contributing members of society as adults, invite them to be part of it. What a wonderful gift to them that they, in turn, can give to you. The organization's board members, this is not something that the Board should be putting off to the CEO, or to a subcommittee, or to you, the grant professional development. Development gets dumped on way too much. Invite it to the table? Yes, this being your responsibility, or any one person's responsibility. I address this later with some of the pitfalls. 

No, it has to be all-hands-on-deck, the organization's full staff, you see that in the next bullet. And let's not forget our volunteers, we have good volunteers working for us. Think about who might best serve in a capacity to help create a culture of DEI for the organization and in turn, convey that message. That's the twist here, is to convey that message to the community. So now we understand a bit more about DEI, its definition, the culture, how we foster the culture, and now we're going to get in a moment to communicate it. Define the demographics the organization serves. We all work with demographics; I was just doing a kind of a brain dump of demographics for a client this morning. And it's a bit too top-heavy in numbers. So I asked you, you know, try to present beyond numbers: board members, staff, volunteers, those served, the constituents you serve beyond race and beyond the quantity. 

There's a story there. And that's what I want you to do tell the story of the competency, whether it's how people with disabilities, or participating with the organization, or how women who have come through our domestic violence victims’ programs are now participating by serving on our subcommittees or evaluation committees, or program development committees. Talk about that culture that lends itself to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Because it's about many things. Not just, again, race or religion or ability. It's about everything. That's the trick here. The hard part is that it's about so much. And cultural competency is best communicated by sharing the stories. These storytellers more than just stating the facts and life experiences as related to the mission, of course. 

Describe the perspectives of beneficiaries and demonstrate that they are included as I just gave you one or two examples in program design and delivery and anything else, and even possibly DEI development. So I'm drilling down here to know the communication end of things. There's a team culture and then with that approach, I want you to think about the following. There are some questions here, is DEI regularly embedded in all grant and development team conversations? Forget for a moment about writing about it. Is it embedded in your regular conversations at the grant and development level? Because if it is on a regular basis, it then will trickle down to the communications that you put out there. We will talk about that in a moment as well. It will trickle down to the communication that you put out there. It can't just be about, let's put out the right messaging without talking about it. It must be embedded in your culture. 

What are the DEI agenda items that the leadership and board are working on? Do we even know if they are working on something? Again, as I said earlier and if there is repeating, is DEI even something that is on the radar screen? It's your nonprofit. You must know whether or not it Is because to understand it is to write about it. If you're in the process of it, what phase are you in? And how much, if at all, are you invited to participate in that process? If you have come through that process as I know some of you already have. What was the outcome? What's changed? What's better? What are some of those things that were identified in the process? You must understand it as the grant pro, development pro to be able to write about it. 

So that's really my message to you here is to understand the culture of the team, understand the culture of the organization enough that you can write about it. And also, be very aware of, in the third bullet, how is DEI embedded in the organization's recruitment, hiring, retention, and advancement processes? Understand that from your human resources person. What does that process look like? You then can write about it in a very articulate and concise way. Program Approach. If we're looking at programming, we write about programming all the time, don't we? I hope you're immersing yourself in that culture. And of course, does the organization consider a DEI lens in its approach to programming? Or is it something that's happening at a very high level that's not trickling down enough? 

How is the ‘voice’ of those the organization serves involved in program development and strategy? I just gave you some examples. You could be the voice for that change in your organization as a development and grant professional; you could absolutely be the voice for that change. And I think that's a wonderful thing to take back to your organizations to be the advocate for incorporating, if it's feasible and if it's appropriate, incorporating those served by the organization in various areas of program development, evaluation development, being included also at the table for DEI, no matter what stage you're at. Just because the DEI plan has been completed, it doesn't mean it's still effective. Just because it's completed doesn't mean it's still effective. We, as grant professionals, development professionals have to be ever vigilant in making sure that the policies and programs that are in place are indeed having a positive impact. 

And lastly in our final bullet, is the organization fully aware of the community's latest data statistics, demographic composition, et cetera? You have to be aware of that as well. I'm sure you know that. But is that something that's isolated to just you in your office? Or is it something that the organization is known for? So here's some considerations when you guys are communicating DEI to the grant funder in particular, because we are honing in on that, but certainly, any external collateral you can transfer this information to those groups. So I'd want you to consider the following: use messaging, such as gender inclusive, all-inclusive language, and language inclusive of people of different abilities, whatever those abilities may be: physical, mental, social, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera; cultures, beliefs, levels of expertise. That is, again, telling the story of the people. 

Not just the facts, not just the data, not just the number served but the stories of the people. I think that creates a picture for the reviewer. They're weighing your grant against dozens, maybe 100+ serving on the federal side, to the best of your ability where it's permitted. You tell that story in a more inclusive way. Review and evaluate your communications beyond the written language, such as visuals, photos, videos, graphics. You know, the savvy funders and these grantors tell me all the time, we will look at the nonprofit’s website, we will look at it because we've requested your annual report. Be another set of eyes for your organization to make sure that the visuals, the photos, the videos, graphics are truly inclusive of the population you serve and hopefully beyond that. Including those who comprise your staff and volunteers, again, all-inclusive, not just about the written language. 

Next, avoid generalizations about your population. For example, don't assume that everybody celebrates the same holiday or has the same level of education, the same type of childhood experience. I just shared something with you that's quite unique, quite unique. So don't make any assumptions about anybody, whether it be people within the organization or those you serve. And next, avoid phrases. And I have plucked these directly from grants that others have written that I have reviewed. Anything that suggests pity or is in any way disparaging or insensitive to others such as “inner-city kids,” yes, people say that. “Down-on-their-luck,” yes, people say that. “Couch surfers,” which was referring to people who are homeless and stay at different people's homes, you know, on a daily basis. “Underprivileged” even is passé. 

So, avoid all of these and just be clear, crystal clear in your descriptions. Again, tell the story of that population and that will lend itself to cultural competency. So, pitfalls to avoid when communicating diversity, equity, and inclusion. I want you to avoid the following here. Avoid a lack of clarity in what the organization is doing to create a DEI culture. In other words, if you're not sure, don't be vague. If the organization hasn't achieved anything, don't be vague, don't skip that response. Your response, whatever it may be, should include some research analysis and should be taken seriously by all parties, not just your office. And use it as the basis for communication, no matter where you are in that continuum of DEI. If it hasn't occurred yet, talk about what the plans are to implement such a program. If you're in the process of it, and if you're in the throes of planning, understand where you are in it, and then you can better talk about it. 

If you've completed it, again, understand those outcomes and how those outcomes lend themselves to change. Assignment of one person, any one person to DIE and communication of that DEI is wrong. It really is everybody's business because when it's everybody's business that communication of diversity, equity, inclusion, will feed the culture of the organization. It will fuel the mission and the vision statement of the organization by strengthening that culture. So any action planning process must engage individuals and team members. And you're part of that team, I want you to know about it. Again, I'm not saying as I started off, this is not what you have to do, but you have to understand it enough. And this is what you need to understand, then you can follow through with your external communications. Don't be afraid to grant professionals and development professionals the hard questions. 

Where are we now with DEI? We're not talking about it. Why aren't we talking about it? Foundations and other grant funders are asking about it, we need to talk about it. The organization is not communicating what it's not doing well. So again, the organization is not communicating, when it's not doing well. Just because maybe you're not even addressing DEI, or you tried an approach and it failed, it doesn't mean there isn't a learning opportunity there. But again, to understand it is to be able to write about it. And then to write as I conclude here in this final bullet, more so in what is being done to take corrective measures. I really cringe when I see folks avoiding addressing that question, hoping that the reviewers will not notice. They're going to notice and they're going to come for a site visit and press you in person for a response. 

So you don't want it to get to that level, take control of the response by understanding what needs to go into that response. There's a wonderful opportunity to participate in the Harvard (IAT) Implicit Association Test. The link is there, and it takes you right to that test, which takes you about 15–20 minutes to complete online—I did it. I'm in no way associated with it. It's just a resource that I share with you. Many of you may have already participated in this. And it measures attitudes and beliefs that people may have regarding DEI, in general. It's fascinating. I'm not going to give you too many specifics because I don't want to color your perception of it and give too much away. But I came away understanding a bit more about myself. 

It may especially be interesting to you if it shows you that you may have even a minor or moderate attitude slant that you weren't otherwise aware of. So do consider that it's a wonderful opportunity for you on your own time to take 15–20 minutes and learn a little bit more about yourself by going through that process. So in review, we have looked at the following and then I think I'm going to move to taking some questions and, of course, Celia will be telling you a bit more before I wrap up. We looked at defining DEI. Helping you to understand a bit more about it. Why does DEI matter for nonprofits? Why does DEI matter for the grant professional? Again, this session was not about developing a DEI process but really about how do we understand it as grant pros, development pros and how do we then articulate it back to the community to foster that communication of a DEI culture. And looking at a few pitfalls to avoid in communicating DEI. There were some questions to consider. Quick recap. Do you know what, if any DEI actions are taking place at your organization? 

Think about that. Where are you in that continuum? To what extent are you –  the grant professional – involved in DEI matters? Again, I hope you're invited to the table. Your voice matters because you have a finger on the pulse of things in the community. How do you communicate DEI in your grants and/or to the grant funder if at all? I hope you are. And now I'll pass the baton over to Celia to fill you in a bit more. And then I'll just share a very quick story with you at the end with a Q & A. 

Celia: Scot, thank you so much. That was awesome. I think we had some really good conversations in the chat as well. So if you aren't looking at the chat, you might check that out as well because I think people have some really good ideas on how to kind of phrase some of the things you're talking about, Scot. I would also love to just hear in the chat really quickly, kind of, how you all are thinking about integrating DEI into your grant, like, are you doing this already? What does that look like? Are you sort of seeking out grantmakers that maybe match up with you from that kind of standpoint? So that is something that I would love to, kind of, hear about from all of you. Really quickly though, I do want to just kind of talk about how I think Instrumentl can kind of fit in here, right? 

So if you're here, you are probably here because you want to improve your DEI efforts around stewardship, or maybe already to kind of ensure that as you're writing proposals, you make sure that that is matching all of their requirements. And you have sort of a streamlined message and your full team kind of understands what direction you're coming from, and how you guys are talking about this. And you know where that data is stored, right? So since you're here, I just want to show a little bit on sort of how Instrumentl can, kind of, help you either find these good match funders who match up with kind of what your mission is, so that you all can stay focused and stay really like on the mission. And then I also want to talk a little bit about how we can keep track of all of this data, so that as team members come and go, as were volunteers involved in the process, they have access to all that information. 

And they understand what that is and can use it in an appropriate manner. So Scot got this slide up on the screen, this is definitely something I want you all to realize. So I think that, take a look at that. I'm also going to drop a link in the chat. If you all want to follow along with me, I'm just going to show you really quickly how we can do a couple of these things in Instrumentl. So go ahead and sort of follow along with me as well. I'm just going to go ahead, Scot, and kind of take over screen share, if that's okay with you. 

Scot: Sure 

Celia: Okay, great. All right. So what we're looking at here is kind of the main page within Instrumentl. And basically, what I've done is I've told Instrumentl a little bit about my project, a little bit about my mission, where I'm focused, and what I'm looking for funding for. And it's given me all these matches. And what's great about this is that once I plug in this information, it's continuing to match for me whether or not I'm in here. So I could plug it in and take two weeks off of prospecting. And I'm going to get an email weekly with new matches. So I'm not missing anything that's really important. But I think in the context of what we're talking about today, being able to understand what organizations are focused on is really key, right? So being able to kind of come through here and understand, you know, what is this organization focused on? Do they have a DEI sort of focus? Do they have populations that they're more interested in serving than others? 

And so, I've got all of this information right here. If I want more information on the organization, I can always dig in a little bit more and just kind of see how funding has looked over the years. And this is the way that I really quickly identify, is this a good fit for me? Do they fund organizations in my area? Do they take in new grantees? Do they only, you know, fund repeat grantees? So really quickly, I can evaluate things like fit, I can evaluate whether or not there are other organizations out there that have also gotten funding like me. But I think that in the context of what we're talking about, perhaps, more importantly, it is that we are properly keeping our full team up to date on our data, and sort of who we're serving and how we're talking about that information, right? And so I want to show really quickly, once we find opportunities we like, we can put them in a tracker. 

And what I think is great about this tracker is we can also upload documents. So we can put in documents here on, here's how we talk about this, this is what's important to our organization. In that way, as people are sort of coming and going and working on the full lifecycle of this grant, whether that's from the planning phase or the researching phase, all the way to the post-award management phase. We've got all of this information in one place, and we can make sure that we're staying streamlined. And then, yeah, I think that's kind of it. That's all I really wanted to share. If you all are interested, again, I'm going to just drop that signup link. Like I mentioned at the top, we are giving away 14 days to our standard plan, which has a few more sort of extra features, which are really fun, including some calendar views and some other nice looks at the platform. So it's a good opportunity, if you've been putting it off to go ahead and sign up for that free trial. 

So with that, I'm going to go ahead and pop us back over into our slideshow, so that we can talk a little bit about Scot and how you can get in touch with him. And we can also talk about this raffle that Scot is very generously involved in. So, Scot, you want to tell us a little bit about how we can get in touch with you? 

Scot: Sure, sure. And then I'll address a few of the things I see in the chat. Thank you so much everybody for being so free with your communications. Very easily, you know, I'm always accessible by email. My email address [email protected]. The website is there. You can reach me via the contact page if you have any questions. LinkedIn, of course, there's a link to LinkedIn, my LinkedIn page. And don't forget, as Celia pointed out earlier, there is a savings code through using my code with Instrumentl, but that's my contact information there. A lot of training on DEI, but a lot of training on just about every facet of the grant sector. And if I could just say I'm terribly encouraged by how many of you have either come through if I'm looking at the chat or are going through the DEI process. And there are a couple of you… here's someone who says, “DEI is not clearly listed at my organization, as far as I know, whatsoever.” 

So some of you who are not anywhere even close to this process. But that's why I say, you know, we can be voices for change, we can advocate for that change. And if you just started there, that's a step in the right direction. Were there any specific questions? I couldn't see the chat, Celia, during the presentation. So were there any questions that jumped out at you? 

Celia: Yeah, first, I would just want to share our raffle really quick, and then we'll hop into some good discussion. We've got about eight minutes left. So we've got some good time for that. If anyone's interested and wants to kind of pick Scot's brain a little bit more, he's very generously raffling off to sort of consulting chats with him, 30-minute chats, you can go ahead and enter that raffle I'm going to drop the link here. And so anyone who kind of enters the raffle is also automatically going to get our 28-page guide on the sort of the 10 Best Lessons from 10 Grant Writing Experts, but also is going to get a chance to chat with Scot and we will be announcing winners on Monday. I'm sorry, on Tuesday morning, you have until the end of the day, Monday, to finish that entry. 

Yeah. And Scot, thank you so much for that. I think that'll be great. I think there are plenty of people here who will probably really appreciate having a chance to potentially chat with you a little bit about their specific organization. Beyond that, I think that's kind of it. So we'll hop into Q&A. There was one good… there's a lot of good conversation, I think in the chat. We had one question, Scot, specifically for you on, “Can you give us some examples of phrases that are better than underprivileged? Maybe you have some other ideas and also, I think there are tons of good ideas in the chat as well.” 

Scot: Yes, I see that question now. And I agree with what Azeem Khan said, “underrepresented.” May be applicable if that's true. Here is my answer. Rather than coming up with a catchy term, describe the population, describe the population. If they are victims of domestic violence, if they are youth who are living in a particular region of an urban environment, talk about the population, and you won't necessarily have to find a catchy word for them. Because you have created a story. I've said that several times if there’s repeating again, you've told the story enough that you have created a picture for the reviewer that they now understand your population without planning a word on it, you know? But sometimes words do, in a single word, you want to use, underserved, I see that several times here, underrepresented, underprivileged, cross that off your language, please. And all the other things that I gave you. 

So I would say if you do a fine job of describing that population, you won't have to worry so much about finding a single word to kind of give them a title. You've done a good job of describing who they are as people. 

Celia: Sure, that's a good point. If anyone else has any other questions, drop them in. I have a question for you, Scot, I'm curious about the process here, right? I think that sometimes the idea of, sort of, getting yourself to a place where you feel really good about your DEI efforts can feel a little, maybe overwhelming. And so I wonder if you can talk to us a little bit about, you know, about the process itself and sort of about, you know, where we need to start versus maybe where we want to kind of end up? 

Scot: Yeah, and the process with… is it DEI planning or communication? 

Celia: Yeah, I think communication is more, right? Because this isn't something that we probably just turn on overnight. It's probably something that takes a little bit of time. 

Scot: Yes, and because this session was really about how DIET relates to the grant professional/development professional regarding stewarding the grant funder, I would have to go back Celia, and really emphasize that you must get yourself invited to the party, you know, you must get yourself invited to the table. I have some colleagues who are development professionals, grant professionals, they're not even invited to board meetings or development committee meetings. And that, to me, is appalling. It's appalling when you're in charge of development, or you're the chief grant writer, and you're not invited to the board meetings. And I'm a big advocate for that. So I think that's where it starts, you must be invited to participate in the process and then you can better understand it. 

And I think if someone's struggling with how do I convince leadership to invite me and that is, I think you have to say, Listen, you've hired me to communicate and steward these funders and to write these applications in supporting our work. What better way for me to convey these DEI-related messages by incorporating me in the process? And I really believe that's where it's at. And you must advocate for yourselves as leaders in the sector. Development, unfortunately, is a very hidden population. I was on an earlier zoom call today. And these people were terribly frustrated because they were just hidden away, hidden away. We can't be hidden away. If we're to communicate with the community and really help steward, funders. We must be invited to the party. Remember, what was that Vernā Myers said? 

I gave that quote, you know, being invited to the party, but being asked to dance is inclusivity. And I think that is what we have to have here. We have to be invited to dance at the party, the DEI party. 

Celia: Yeah, that makes total sense. All right, well, we are right up against time. So unless anyone has something burning that they want to ask, I think we will kind of cut it off here. Thank you all everyone so much for joining us today. This was such a great topic. And I think it gave everyone something to think about. There was one question from Amanda about the sort of some better terms to use and I think Judith had dropped some ideas in there. So definitely take a look back at the chat there you may find what you're looking for. Scot, thank you so much. A reminder to everyone that if you'd like to be considered to win some time to chat with Scot, go ahead and fill out, enter that raffle at the link that I just dropped in the chat there. All right. So that's it everyone. Keep an eye out for slides and follow-up for me shortly. And Scot again thank you so much for your time. 

Scot: Thank you. 

Celia: All right. Bye, everyone. Have a great weekend. 

Create Your Instrumentl Account

Never tried Instrumentl?

Find and win more grants for your nonprofit!
Start saving 3 hours a week and increase your grant applications by 78%.

Try 14-days free

Get access to weekly advice and grant writing templates

Get access to weekly advice and grant writing templates

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

10k+ grant writers have already subscribed

Instrumentl team

Instrumentl is the all-in-one grant management tool for nonprofits and consultants who want to find and win more grants without the stress of juggling grant work through disparate tools and sticky notes.

Become a Stronger Grant Writer in Just 5 Minutes

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Share this Article

Related posts

Try Instrumentl

The best tool for finding & organizing grants

128 reviews | High Performer status on

Try free for 14 days