Organizational Capacity Building

This section provides resources to support organizations that can sustain racial equity work, with attention to their internal processes as well as their capacities to work on equity. Many organizational development practices and capacity building tools do not integrate structural racism analysis. This section includes materials that may not have fully applied this analysis. Modifying a tool to reflect this analysis is about understanding how some processes reinforce white dominant culture and privilege white people, while other tools reinforce racial inequities and marginalize People of Color. Please see tips on reviewing resources with a racial equity lens before using some of these tools.

It is fundamental for organizations working on racial equity issues to assess and improve their own practices (i.e. govern [...]


What Working at a Flat Organization Has Taught Me About White Supremacy
Yolanda Contreras
Community-Centric Fundraising
The Real Reasons Many Organizations Are Still Unable to Diversify Their Board, Staff, Fundraising Committees, Etc.
Vu Le
Nonprofit AF
Decolonize Your Board
Natalie A. Walrond
Stanford Social Innovation Review
The Square, the Tower, and the Circle: The Blind Spot in the Stewardship of Locally Led Systems Change Networks
Pedro Portela and Bernadette Wesley
Network Weaver
Evolutionary Governance, Part II: Practices
Vanessa LeBourdais
Reflecting on the First Steps on Our Governance Experiments
Natalie Bamdad
Change Elemental
Evolutionary Governance: Part 1: Principles
Vanessa LeBourdais
“If You Like It Then You Shoulda Put a Re-Ng on It!” Moving Nonprofit Boards Towards Real Racial Equity (Re) Commitments
Sapna Sopori
Sapna Strategies
Activating Race Equity Problem-Solving on Nonprofit Boards
Markita Morris-Louis
Failure Is Not an Option: How Nonprofit Boards Can Support Leaders of Color
Idalia Fernandez, Monisha Kapila, and Angela Romans
Nonprofit Quarterly (NPQ)
The Default Nonprofit Board Model Is Archaic and Toxic; Let’s Try Some New Models
Vu Le
Nonprofit AF
25 Things Awesome Board Members Do
Vu Le
Nonprofit AF
A Framework For Inclusive Governance: The Continuum From Exclusion To Inclusion
Foundation Consortium for the Results for Children Initiative
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Nonprofit Bylaws
Michele Berger
NEO Law Group
Engagement Governance for System-Wide Decision-Making
Judy Freiwirth, Psy.D.
Nonprofit Quarterly (NPQ)
Five Year Reflection: Aligning Board and Staff
Pam Moret and Jen Ford Reedy
Bush Foundation
Structuring Leadership: Alternative Models for Distributing Power and Decision-Making in Nonprofit Organizations
Caroline McAndrews, Frances Kunreuther, and Shifra Bronznick
Building Movement Project
The Roles of Foundation Board Trustees and Foundation Staff Must Radically Change
Vu Le
Nonprofit AF
Vital Voices: Lessons Learned from Board Members of Color
Vernetta L. Walker and Deborah J. Davidson


Strategic Thinking in a Long-Term Crisis: One Approach
Up With Community
Championing Black-Led Organizations: Lessons Learned from an Unapologetically Black-Centered Capacity Building Initiative
R. Purnell, S. Teng, C. Williams, and M. Scadeng
East Bay Community Foundation
White-Led Organizations: Here Are Three Keys to Incorporating Racial Equity in Strategic Planning
Renee Rubin Ross
Community-Centric Fundraising
Asking Powerful Questions
Caroline McAndrews, Hai Binh Nguyen and Sean Thomas-Breitfeld
Building Movement Project
Building a Strategic Thinking Organization
Elsa A. Ríos
Strategies for Social Change
Chronicles of Change: An Organization’s Guide to Theory of Change
National Gender & Equity Campaign (NGEC) of Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP)
New Roles, Few Rules: Planning for Purpose Beyond Position
Stephanie Clohesy, Frances Kunreuther, and Phyllis Segal
Building Movement Project


Reimagining Capacity Building: Navigating Culture, Systems & Power
Seema Shah et al.
Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO)
Reimagining Fiscal Sponsorship in Service of Equity: A Case Study Report of Emerging Practices and Recommendations
Elise Harris Wilkerson, Wendy Y. Perez, and Rosann Tung, et al.
Staffing the Mission: Improving Jobs in the Nonprofit Sector
Betsy Leondar-Wright and Anastasia Lynge
Class Action
Talent Justice Report
Fund the People
Providing Technical Assistance to Build Organizational Capacity
Rich Wildau and Gurudev Khalsa
The Colorado Trust; The Spring Institute for Intercultural Learning; Trilight Development
Race to Lead: Confronting the Nonprofit Racial Leadership Gap
Sean Thomas-Breitfeld and Frances Kunreuther
Building Movement Project
Stories Worth Telling: A Guide to Strategic and Sustainable Nonprofit Storytelling
Julie Dixon et al.
Meyer Foundation; Center for Social Impact Communication (CSIC), Georgetown University
The Nonprofit Industrial Complex and Trans Resistance
Rickke Mananzala and Dean Spade
Sexuality Research & Social Policy; Coalition of Communities of Color


Exploring Restorative Organizational Practices
Kazu Haga and Sonya Shah with Kirby Broadnax
Zehr Institute for Restorative Justice
Understanding and Disrupting White Supremacy at Work: An Action and Inquiry Guide for OD Practitioners
Kimberly A. Walker
Organization Development Review
Resources for Workplace Democracy
Sustainable Economies Law Center
Resources for Workplace Democracy
Sustainable Economies Law Center
NTEN Equity Guide for Nonprofit Technology
Rajneesh Aggarwal, E. Arocho, D. Baskin, et al.
Black Women in Nonprofits Matter
Dr. Danielle Moss Lee
NonProfit Quarterly (NPQ)
Nonprofit Industrial Complex 101: A Primer on How It Upholds Inequity and Flattens Resistance
Sidra Morgan-Montoya
Community-Centric Fundraising
Transformational Capacity Building
April Nishimura, R. Sampath, V. Le, A. M. Sheikh, and A. Valenzuela
Stanford Social Innovation Review
A 70-Day Web Security Action Plan for Artists and Activists Under Siege
Candace Williams
Hiring: Building the Team You Want
AORTA (Anti-Oppression Resource and Training Alliance)
Organization Development for Social Change: An Integrated Approach to Community Transformation
Zak Sinclair with Lisa Russ et al.
Movement Strategy Center (MSC)
Reclaiming Our Social Justice Organizations
Anne Tapp
Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence
Weathering the Storms: Building Social Justice Resilience Against Opposition Attacks
Margi Clarke, Mary Ochs, Jen Soriano and Emily Goldfarb


Building Organizational Capacity for Social Justice
From the Bottom Up: Strategies and Practices for Membership‐Based Organizations
Ezra Berkley Nepon, Elana Redfield, Dean Spade, et al.
Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP)
The Iambrown Consensus Process Flow Chart
Autumn Brown
Tools for Transformation
Social Transformation Project

“Capacity building often legitimizes inequitable systems … So much of capacity building is not organizations being intrinsically motivated to learn various skills, but because they have to in order to function within inequitable systems. Grantwriting, for example. Grant applications are a horrible way to distribute funding, one that mostly rewards white-led organizations that can speak the white-dominant grant language and understand unwritten white-dominant rules. By building people’s capacity to navigate grants, we legitimize grant proposals as a valid philanthropic tool. What other inequitable philosophies and practices are we legitimizing through capacity building?”

~ Vu Le, “Capacity Building’s Necessary Existential Crisis,” NonProfit AF


Recruitment and Retention – Equity in the Center

Also in this section:
  • Community of Practice

  • Resistance and Retrenchment

  • Resource Building



An anti-racist is someone who is supporting an antiracist policy through their actions or expressing antiracist ideas. This includes the expression of ideas that racial groups are equals and do not need developing, and supporting policies that reduce racial inequity. 

SOURCE:  Ibram X. Kendi, How To Be An Antiracist, Random House, 2019.

Caucusing (Affinity Groups)

A caucus is an intentionally created space for those who share an identity to convene for learning, support, and connections. Caucuses based on racial identity are often comprised, respectively, of people of color, white people, people who hold multiracial identities, or people who share specific racial or ethnic identities.

To advance racial equity, there is work for white people and people of color to do separately and together. Caucuses provide spaces for people to work within their own racial/ethnic groups. For white people, a caucus provides time and space to work explicitly and intentionally on understanding white culture and white privilege and to increase one’s critical analysis around these concepts. A white caucus also puts the onus on white people to teach each other about these ideas, rather than placing a burden on people of color to teach them. For people of color, a caucus is a place to work with peers to address the impact of racism, to interrupt experiences of internalized racism, and to create a space for healing and working for individual and collective liberation. At times, people of color may also break into more specific race-based caucuses, sometimes based on experiences with a particular issue, for example police violence, immigration, or land rights. Groups that use caucuses in their organizational racial equity work, especially in workplaces and coalitions, generally meet separately and create a process to rejoin and work together collectively.

SOURCE: (ACT / Strategies / Caucus and Affinity Groups)

Related Resources:  Caucus and Affinity Groups

Location: ACT / Strategies

Implicit Bias

Also known as unconscious or hidden bias, implicit biases are negative associations that people unknowingly hold. They are expressed automatically, without conscious awareness. Many studies have indicated that implicit biases affect individuals’ attitudes and actions, thus creating real-world implications, even though individuals may not even be aware that those biases exist within themselves. Notably, implicit biases have been shown to trump individuals’ stated commitments to equality and fairness, thereby producing behavior that diverges from the explicit attitudes that many people profess. The Implicit Association Test (IAT) is often used to measure implicit biases with regard to race, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, and other topics.

SOURCE:  Cheryl Staats, State of the Science: Implicit Bias Review 2013, Kirwan Institute, The Ohio State University. 

Related Resources:  Implicit Bias

Location: ACT / Communicating


The everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.

SOURCE:  Derald Wing Sue, PhD, “Microaggressions: More than Just Race” (Psychology Today, 17 November 2010).

Related Resources:  Racism (scroll down alphabetically to the box for “Interpersonal Racism”)

Location: FUNDAMENTALS / Core Concepts

Multicultural Competency

A process of learning about and becoming allies with people from other cultures, thereby broadening our own understanding and ability to participate in a multicultural process. The key element to becoming more culturally competent is respect for the ways that others live in and organize the world and an openness to learn from them.

SOURCE:  Paul Kivel, “Multicultural Competence” (2007).

Related Resources:  Multicultural Competency

Location: ACT / Strategies


  1. Power is unequally distributed globally and in U.S. society; some individuals or groups wield greater power than others, thereby allowing them greater access and control over resources. Wealth, whiteness, citizenship, patriarchy, heterosexism, and education are a few key social mechanisms through which power operates. Although power is often conceptualized as power overother individuals or groups, other variations are power with (used in the context of building collective strength) and power within (which references an individual’s internal strength). Learning to “see” and understand relations of power is vital to organizing for progressive social change.

  2. Power may also be understood as the ability to influence others and impose one’s beliefs. All power is relational, and the different relationships either reinforce or disrupt one another. The importance of the concept of power to anti-racism is clear: racism cannot be understood without understanding that power is not only an individual relationship but a cultural one, and that power relationships are shifting constantly. Power can be used malignantly and intentionally, but need not be, and individuals within a culture may benefit from power of which they are unaware.

  3. (A) The ability to name or define. (B) The ability to decide. (C) The ability the set the rule, standard, or policy. (D) The ability to change the rule, standard, or policy to serve your needs, wants, or desires. (E) The ability to influence decision makers to make choices in favor of your cause, issue, or concern. Each of these definitions can manifest on personal, social, institutional, or structural levels:  

  • Personal Power - 1. Self-determination. 2. Power that an individual possesses or builds in their personal life and interpersonal relationships.  

  • Social Power - 1. Communal self-determination. 2. A grassroots collective organization of personal power. 3. Power that social groups possess or build among themselves to determine and shape their collective lives.  

  • Institutional Power - 1. Power to create and shape the rules, policies, and actions of an institution. 2. To have institutional power is to be a decision maker or to have great influence upon a decision maker of an institution.  

  • Structural Power - To have structural power is to create and shape the rules, policies, and actions that govern multiple and intersecting institutions or an industry.


  1. Intergroup Resources, “Power” (2012).

  2. Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre, “Racism and Power” (2018) / “CARED Glossary” (2020).

  3. Our Shared Language: Social Justice Glossary, YWCA (2016).

Racial Healing

To restore to health or soundness; to repair or set right; to restore to spiritual wholeness.

SOURCE:  Michael R. Wenger, Racial Equity Resource Guide (W.K. Kellogg Foundation, 2012).

Related Resources:  Addressing Trauma and Healing and Trauma, Violence, and Healing

Locations: ACT / Strategies and PLAN / Issues

Racial Reconciliation

Reconciliation involves three ideas. First, it recognizes that racism in America is both systemic and institutionalized, with far–reaching effects on both political engagement and economic opportunities for minorities. Second, reconciliation is engendered by empowering local communities through relationship-building and truth-telling. Lastly, justice is the essential component of the conciliatory process—justice that is best termed as restorative rather than retributive, while still maintaining its vital punitive character.

SOURCE:  The William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, Position Statement on Reconciliation (2014).

Related Resources:  Racial Reconciliation

Location: ACT / Strategies

Restorative Justice

Restorative Justice is a theory of justice that emphasizes repairing the harm caused by crime and conflict. It places decisions in the hands of those who have been most affected by a wrongdoing, and gives equal concern to the victim, the offender, and the surrounding community. Restorative responses are meant to repair harm, heal broken relationships, and address the underlying reasons for the offense. Restorative Justice emphasizes individual and collective accountability. Crime and conflict generate opportunities to build community and increase grassroots power when restorative practices are employed.

SOURCE:  The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), “Glossary.”

Related Resources:  Conflict Transformation and Restorative Justice

Location: ACT / Strategies

White Supremacy Culture

  1. White Supremacy Culture refers to the dominant, unquestioned standards of behavior and ways of functioning embodied by the vast majority of institutions in the United States. These standards may be seen as mainstream, dominant cultural practices; they have evolved from the United States’ history of white supremacy. Because it is so normalized it can be hard to see, which only adds to its powerful hold. In many ways, it is indistinguishable from what we might call U.S. culture or norms – a focus on individuals over groups, for example, or an emphasis on the written word as a form of professional communication. But it operates in even more subtle ways, by actually defining what “normal” is – and likewise, what “professional,” “effective,” or even “good” is. In turn, white culture also defines what is not good, “at risk,” or “unsustainable.” White culture values some ways of thinking, behaving, deciding, and knowing – ways that are more familiar and come more naturally to those from a white, western tradition – while devaluing or rendering invisible other ways. And it does this without ever having to explicitly say so...

  2. An artificial, historically constructed culture which expresses, justifies, and binds together the United States white supremacy system. It is the glue that binds together white-controlled institutions into systems and white-controlled systems into the global white supremacy system.


1. Gita Gulati-Partee and Maggie Potapchuk, “Paying Attention to White Culture and Privilege: A Missing Link to Advancing Racial Equity” (The Foundation Review vol. 6: issue 1, 2014).

2. Sharon Martinas and the Challenging White Supremacy Workshop, 4th revision (1995).

Related Resources:  Organizational Change Process (see the first section: “Addressing White Dominant Culture”)

Location: ACT / Strategies