Access: It means more than opening a door

Invisible barriers might still exist. . .

Hand on Door Handle


When AFP Global presented the challenge to its chapters to weave inclusion, diversity, equity, and access (I.D.E.A.) into everything they do, our chapter embraced the challenge because we want our chapter to reflect the diverse richness of the community.  The Association of Fundraising Professionals of Southeastern Wisconsin has never been an exclusive organization.  And yet our chapter is predominantly and culturally white.  The chapter doors are open, but invisible barriers might still exist keeping people of color, the LGBTQ community, and many others outside. 

The challenge which I.D.E.A. sets before us is to discover what those invisible barriers and obstacles are and to remove them.  We can begin our process of discovery through education.  The United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County launched its second 21-week equity challenge.  The United Way masterfully created weekly exercises and resources to assist individuals and groups.  Does that mean we will have all the answers after 21 weeks? Perhaps not.  But as members and as a chapter we may arrive at a deeper understanding regarding systemic racism and implicit bias and how they can seep into the way we conduct business.          

Every second Thursday, the I.D.E.A. special interest group meets to share what we have learned and to discuss some of the questions from the 21-week equity challenge.  Our discussions are open, respectful, and confidential because the topics we discuss invite us to look at questions which may challenge long held beliefs.  Participants take turns facilitating the group discussion from month to month.  Thoughtful and deliberative conversation can help us step outside of our preconceived ideas and see our chapter through the eyes of people of color, the LGBTQ community, and many others.  Your participation in the I.D.E.A. conversation could be just the thing to help us break down invisible barriers and help us figure out how to make all people feel welcomed at AFP.