Delmar DivINe and the Center for Human Service Leadership hosted the inaugural “INsights” event last month. An audience of nonprofit professionals, funders, students, community members, and stakeholders heard an expert panel, moderated by the Center Director Barry Rosenberg, discuss how to better build the nonprofit ecosystem. The evening was co-sponsored by the Clark-Fox Policy Institute at Washington University.
Jason Hall, CEO of Greater St. Louis, Michael McMillan, President & CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, and Michelle Miller, CEO of Philanthropy Missouri tackled topics such as pandemic-driven changes to foundation grant making policies, emerging resources, and increasing the number of people of color obtaining leadership roles in nonprofit organizations.
Although everyone agreed it was a given that access to resources is a perpetual issue for the sector, the panelists highlighted a number of strengths and opportunities as well as challenges. Hall praised the ability of the sector to do incredible work even with limited resources and stressed the importance of the business community understanding the realities of nonprofit life, while McMillan encouraged agencies to be aware that there has never before been as much city, state, and federal funds for nonprofits to draw on. For her part, Miller encouraged grantors to accelerate the trend towards multiyear funding that allows agencies to pivot to needs as they arise. Miller also noted that nonprofits are rarely allowed to be learners. Agencies need to be able to share openly, including their failures.
One other area that drew a lot of attention was equity and inclusion. Miller reminded the audience that there is not a lack of talent among underrepresented groups, but rather the presence of bias. Agencies need to strive to look more like the community they serve. McMillan invited the group to challenge companies and institutions to make sure that people of color, women and the LGBTQ community are represented in their boards and in their leadership teams. Hall added that these are national issues, but that St. Louis can make progress by being committed to the necessary ongoing work.
In 2023, INsights will be held quarterly. It is free and open to the public. Visit the Delmar DivINe website, Facebook page, or Twitter feed for information about these and other events as they are scheduled.