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How and why to celebrate International Pronouns Day

October 24, 2021
 Two people are embracing each other and other members are supporting them, which embodies the spirit of International Pronouns Day.

Today we celebrate International Pronouns Day! This holiday occurs on the third Wednesday of October. The goal of this day is to make respecting, sharing, and educating about personal pronouns commonplace in both personal and professional environments.

In this guide, we’ll explore how (and why) your nonprofit organization can embrace International Pronouns Day to create a safe and accepting space.

Why do we celebrate?

Placing an emphasis on using and accepting pronouns is key to making your nonprofit’s employees, supporters, and those you serve feel welcome and respected. The International Pronouns Day website states, “referring to people by the pronouns they determine for themselves is basic to human dignity. Being referred to by the wrong pronouns particularly affects transgender and gender-nonconforming people. Together, we can transform society to celebrate people’s multiple, intersecting identities.”

Why is it important to nonprofits and businesses?

Your nonprofit should embrace the significance of this day, not just as an organization or a brand, but as people who want to make positive change. Formally recognize that sharing pronouns in the workplace helps normalize the act of providing your pronouns when asking someone else for theirs. It allows you to address your colleagues, customers, and nonprofit community members correctly to respect and embrace all identities.

In a past webinar, T. Clay Buck (he/him) and Lindsay McCreary (she/her) shared information about how to create equity and inclusion in your donor data practices. They shared that donors tell you what they need from their relationship with your nonprofit by the information they provide: who they are, why they give, and what matters to them. It’s up to your organization to ensure you are listening and treating them with dignity and respect. Using their preferred pronouns and recording them accurately in your database is an important aspect of doing so.

In the webinar, Clay pointed out that if you have 25,000 names in your database and they’re responsible for a total of $1.1 million, every record is worth about $44 on average. If we assume that 1% of data becomes outdated or inaccurate every year, you could lose $11,000 due to poor data quality alone.

What if the data is inaccurate because your organization didn’t recognize the donor the way they wanted to be recognized? What if the data is bad because assumptions were made about their gender, marital status, or pronouns? By taking these questions into consideration and removing bias, you can make donors feel acknowledged and respected. Over time, this translates to higher retention and donor satisfaction.

What can you do to create a more inclusive environment?

First and foremost, you should do research and strive to educate yourself. Ask questions to be informed, open, and vulnerable to better understand your donors and the community you serve. Here is a list of resources to help you get started:

Other easy but meaningful ways to support this effort in the workplace include updating Outlook email signaturesZoom display namesSlack profiles, and LinkedIn profiles to include your pronouns.

You should also seek out opportunities to learn more. Look for opportunities to gain new perspectives and learn from others’ lived experiences. Learn about you and your team’s own implicit or unconscious biases and be open to challenging those biases.

Finally, question and change your practices. Here are a few suggestions if you aren’t sure where to start:

  • If you require information about gender identity on your donation or registration forms, ask yourself why. Make sure you allow for free-form responses or inclusive options outside of just “male” and “female.”
  • Capture names correctly. While you likely require supporters to enter their legal name on donation forms, do you ask how they would like to be recognized? Add a custom field in your donation form to be sure.
  • Consider eliminating honorifics (such as Mr./Mrs./Ms.) or list all possibilities (like Mx. and Dr.) and allow donors to choose their titles.
  • Give donors the opportunity to update their data at any time.

Take a look at any unique processes your organization might have to find ways that you can update them to be more inclusive and affirming.

Celebrating equality with International Pronouns Day

Remember to give yourself some grace as you work to normalize, understand, and respect pronouns. People are imperfect, and it’s okay to make mistakes! Honoring International Pronouns Day is about the work we do to correct ourselves and about the opportunity to grow as people and as a community.


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