Hiring and Partnering with Inclusive Vendors and Consultants

The Denver Foundation’s internal Inclusiveness Committee created a list of recommendations for our staff to consider when hiring inclusive vendors and consultants.  We thought you may find the following tips helpful:

Avoid a one-size fits all organizational policy
Each of our departments has its unique culture and prioritizes.  We don’t suggest establishing an organizational-wide policy regarding this issue.  Rather, we believe departments should learn from each other and share practices and information.

Balance our value for inclusiveness with our value for reducing costs
We suggest that staff consider discussing our internal values with prospective vendors and consultants.  While the responses to the questions below are important, our hope is that engaging in the conversations will, in and of itself, inspire inclusive behaviors.

Below are some possible questions you can ask when interviewing vendors or consultants:

  • We work hard to reduce waste and recycle whenever possible.  Could you please share some ways you do the same?
  • We work to support local nonprofits.  Could you please share some of your charitable activities?  Do you offer discounted rates to nonprofits?
  • (If the vendor is a catering company)  Do you use local farmers/produce?
  • Some of our caterers post small cards indicating that they use “green” practices.  Would you like to display your inclusive practices at our events?
  • We appreciate your green/inclusive practices, and you come highly recommended.  We would like to partner with you, but your quoted rate is still higher than other bids. Are you willing to reduce the cost if we are able to partner with you in the future?

Develop and maintain an organizational-wide list of past and current vendors and consultants
We believe departments could learn from each other by sharing information about current vendors and consultants.  Some of the benefits include:

  • Sharing money-saving tactics
  • Creating a widespread understanding of the “going” rate for goods and services
  • Encouraging each other to implement item by tracking vendor responses
  • Get bids from a variety of vendors and consultants.  When appropriate, ensure you are soliciting bids from women and minority owned companies.

Although these tips may be specific to our work at The Denver Foundation, we hope you found some that are useful to your organization.


One response to “Hiring and Partnering with Inclusive Vendors and Consultants

  1. Let’s hear it for inclusivity in partnering with our volunteer leaders and major donors, too!

    If ever there were a wake-up call for changing times and a changing society, it is now.

    Does our value around inclusivity include our outreach to donors and volunteer leadership? Have we found multiple ways to communicate our organization’s visionary leadership in our mission area?

    Whether we are communicating virally with younger generations of donors or volunteers,or we are communicating face to face or through a letter with a member of the Boomer or Greatest Generation,or even crossing generation lines and doing both are we being sensitive and donor-centered ?

    Are we taking into account donor preference for low or high technology communication?Do we promote heartfelt communication and a true exchange of ideas? Or, do our actions presume that donors and volunteers are solely at the service of our organization?

    Are our actions sensitive to a different understanding of social protocol? Or, a view of how our organizations work or should work , which may not be prevalent and may be informed by the circumstances of how a donor has come up in the world of work or civic engagement? Are our interactions sensitive to donors and volunteers with disabilities or health issues? Or, those with non-traditional families? For all of the people in the mix who can render gifts of time and financial support, the list goes on.

    My point here is : a truly inclusive donor – and volunteer- centered program enables ongoing opportunity for our supporterss to grow and transmit their values to us. Do we have a true and inclusive partnership with donors which takes into account their preferences and priorities, cultural and religious backgrounds?

    When we have limited resources in our organization for outreach to donors and volunteers, does the design have a one size fits all feel to it? If so, our program is failing to connect with potential partners.

    Due to my pro-bono work with agencies serving Chinese orphans, I am learning as much as I can about Chinese culture and its intersection with philanthropy so that I can be inclusive in my approach to potential supporters. Philanthropy is emerging in Chinese society and much of Asia. I am still trying to get my arms around Chinese- American giving. If any readers have resources for research,please commicate with me offline!

    The Association of Fundraising Professionals (www.afpnet.org) has a newsletter devoted to the topic of diversity, “Kaleidoscope”, which can be accessed without membership on the AFP website.

    A web search on the key words of inclusivity and major donors offers several kinds of resources.

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