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Diversity and Inclusion on Your Nonprofit Board

Diversity and Inclusion are words we’re all hearing these days. How are they important to your nonprofit board? A board that’s more diverse and inclusive will bring more ways of looking at issues and problems, capitalizing on the different ideas and points of view. Including voices from a wider range of backgrounds will add value to your organization.


Does your board reflect the population of your organization? If the organization is a membership organization, do the board members represent a cross section of the membership? If the organization is a charitable organization, do the board members represent the community served, not just donors of the organization?

Often, diversity on a nonprofit board will address differences in race, gender, religion, age and sexual orientation. Other factors to consider when diversifying a board might be ability or geography. For example: Are disabled members of the community represented? Are there board members from each geographical region that the nonprofit serves?


Inclusion and Diversity, while sometimes used interchangeably, are actually very different.

A board can consist of diverse members, but if those members do not feel welcomed, respected or valued as individuals, they may not be able or willing to contribute fully. Inclusion means encouraging a sense of belonging and value.  Leaders and board members of inclusive organizations will support and encourage all members to participate, speak up and share their ideas and expertise. All voices should be heard in the thinking and decision-making processes.

A nonprofit board that values diversity and inclusion will leverage the differences of its members to solve problems and advance the mission of the organization.  When nominating new board members for your organization, consider the diversity of your members. Make sure that all members feel respected and valued.

Diversity and Inclusion will likely result in a more innovative and effective board for your organization.