Choose an equity dimension

Strive to promote values of equity, diversity and inclusion in the organization’s mission and vision.



Inclusive values and mission statements help funders orient their work toward more equitable and community-engaged practices and approaches, in support of greater impact.

The mission and/or vision of a foundation, alternatively a “north star,” should be clear about the communities that the organization seeks to serve, the impacts they seek to have, how they want to work (equitably), and more. This process can begin with honest reflection and thoughtful, informed discussions among board, staff and community members.

Shared organizational learning

Engage key stakeholders (board, staff, community members) to build shared understanding of your organization’s commitments to constituents, to impact, to equity, diversity and inclusion, and more. 

A commitment to organizational learning is critical to building a shared understanding of equity in your organization that reflects the needs of all of stakeholders, and moves your equity work forward. This process can involve background reading, interviews, and facilitated discussions about the organization’s origins and initial purpose. These reflections can include a review of founding documents, history, accomplishments and reputation  of the organization (especially based on feedback from stakeholders), alongside an understanding of the organization’s present context, and other inputs.


Created in collaboration with Equity Based Dialogue for Inclusion

  • Plan: Develop a time table, plan your approach and ensure mechanisms of accountability are in place to keep the organization on track. Determine which key stakeholders (board, staff, and/or community members) will be informing the process and who will be leading and holding the pen
  • Define: Begin by exploring terms and definitions to spark conversations and build shared vocabulary around equity (review some definitions), as well as related terms such as diversity, inclusion, opportunity and justice
  • Envision: Reflect on your organization’s ultimate goals and how they intersect with your definition(s) of equity and what equity would look like in your organization’s context

YWCA Glossary

Our Shared Language: Social Justice Glossary​

Michigan Nonprofit Association

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Assessment

Collaborative and participatory visioning

Crafting an effective vision or mission statement, or updating existing statements, e.g., to incorporate explicit commitments to equity, requires a deep understanding of stakeholder perspectives. 

At this stage, an organization might consider creating opportunities (in-person and virtually) for organizational stakeholders to share their vision(s) for your organization. Taking a collaborative and participatory approach increases the likelihood of organization-wide alignment on key principles and eventual implementation.

Consider seeking inspiration from prominent leaders of color: Dreaming in Color, a podcast by Bridgespan Group Partner Darren Isom, offers leaders of color space to share how they have leveraged their unique assets and abilities to embrace excellence, drive impact, and more fully define what success looks like. Likewise, the Radical Imagination podcast from Angela Glover Blackwell, Founder in Residence at PolicyLink, features changemakers and visionaries who are helping to manifest a vision of justice and fairness for all, and who help us to do the same.

  • Include: Invite people in your organization to consider key words that are important to the organization
  • Facilitate: Host in-person and virtual “Town Hall” sessions for:
    • organizational leaders to share their thoughts about equity in relation to their vision for the organization and personal commitment, and
    • stakeholders to share their perspectives on your organization and its opportunities to enact lasting change
  • Communicate: Distill key takeaways from “Town Hall” sessions and other feedback mechanisms and consider sharing with  internal and external stakeholders

YW Boston

Facilitating Organizational Change

Government Alliance on Race and Equity

Racial Equity Action Plans

USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work

A Guide to Discussing Identity, Power and Privilege

Institute for Educational Leadership

Courageous Conversation About Race Protocol
How to Begin Equity Work in Your Organization​

Statement writing

Ideally, a subset of board, leadership, staff, and/or constituents align on a set of core principles (sometimes even expressed as “key words”), and then write values, vision and/or mission statement based on the input gathered. Often, a sub-team of staff and leadership create a draft statement, and then share with board members for refinement. 

Some organizations choose to create a group, with representatives from staff, board and community, to collaborate on vision, mission and/or values statements; the more diverse the group, the more attentive the organization must be to power differences among participants, ideally committing to a consensus or “one person, one vote” ethos and process. 

For example, consider this racial equity statement representing the aspirations of the board of The James Irvine Foundation or an overview of how Ecotrust has moved to center equity in its work. 

  • Align: At this stage, it is important for stakeholders (staff, board and/or community members) to align on the core principles of the organization vision, mission and/or values statements
  • Focus: Identify “must-have” characteristics for the vision or mission statement
  • Develop: A set of statements that are clear, specific, unique and inspire stakeholders

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Writing a Diversity and Inclusion Statement

Open Growth Community

Mission And Vision – Why Is It Important?

Aperian Global

Crafting the Right DEI Mission

Statement implementation

Commit resources and supportive structures, and recruit internal leaders to realize the principles detailed in your vision or mission statement.

Realizing the values, mission and vision of your organization calls for deep engagement with both internal and external stakeholders. This requires committing resources, creating supportive structures and recruiting internal leaders to realize the mission and vision statement.

  • Communicate: The board and leadership should communicate the purpose and importance of the renewed vision or mission statement
  • Integrate: The values, mission and vision should be integrated into key organizational and operational processes
  • Report: Key performance indicators (KPIs) or other metrics should be implemented to measure your statement’s success over time. Structures and systems should be implemented to collect data that can measure and drive progress on equity commitments

The Nonprofit Association of Oregon

Equity & Inclusion Lens Guide


Dēmos’ Racial Equity Transformation

NEO Law Group

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Nonprofit Bylaws

Government Alliance on Race and Equity

Contracting for Equity

Additional questions & actions to consider

  • What are the current and anticipated demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of the populations you seek to reach, and how is that reflected in the organization’s mission?
  • How might diversity and inclusion practices advance your foundation’s mission?
  • How (and how well) does your foundation’s mission or vision represent and engage the diversity of those you aim to serve? 
  • How are the values expressed by your foundation shared and embraced throughout the organization?
  • What would a greater emphasis on equity look like for your foundation and the communities it serves?

Council on Foundation

Ten Ways for Community Foundations to Consider Diversity and Inclusive Practices

RESPECT / Annie E. Casey Foundation

Advancing the Mission: Tools for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion


Racial Equity Impact Assessment Toolkit

Case studies

Reading Partners

The Denver Foundation

The Greater Milwaukee Foundation

The San Francisco Foundation

The Bridgespan Group

Blue Engine

Low Income Investment Fund

Youth Speaks

Meyer Memorial Trust

Planned Parenthood