The Power of Proximity in Faith Based Nonprofit Leadership

Dr.Sanja Rickette Stinson
September 5, 2023
3 min read
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Empowering Women of Color - Part 1

A powerful and transformative approach is emerging in the dynamic landscape of nonprofit organizations. One that centers around the concept of "The Power of Proximity ." When applied to the leadership of a nonprofit focused on empowering women of color, this concept becomes a catalyst for meaningful change, amplifying the voices, aspirations, and impact of women, especially women of color.

Today, in this blog, we'll explore how the Power of Proximity in nonprofit leadership drives women of color's empowerment to new heights. In context, faith-based nonprofit leadership, connected to the Power of Proximity, transcends physical closeness. It embodies a deep spiritual connection, an understanding, and a shared journey beyond presence. When a leader is willing to embrace this concept by collecting themselves in stories, experiences, and spiritual needs of the women they serve, it allows them to empower women of color who are faith-based nonprofit leaders.

In my opinion, true transformation occurs when leaders consistently "show up," both physically and metaphorically. When women of color in roles of faith-based nonprofit leaders persistently "show up," they cultivate trust that transcends time and circumstances. Woody Allen says: "Showing up is 90% of how to achieve success".

Starting the nonprofit, I have served for over three decades, we needed more funding. One of the things I remember doing was attending an open-invitation funder meeting with a purpose. My purpose was to put our nonprofit name out in the forefront, to find opportunities to network and to connect with other nonprofit leaders. Although not all of these leaders or foundation leaders were women of color, they were very few. However, I understood proximity requires nurturing through persistence. The showing up and persistence paid off.

Because I was willing to keep showing up, the nonprofit received a small grant to purchase a commercial refrigerator, which snowballed from there. Other funding opportunities emerged. Therefore, one of the power steps in the Power of Proximity is the willingness to keep showing up.  

Note that the Power of Proximity extends its influence beyond individuals' leaders. It's about forming collaborative networks of leaders who are willing to share. This is especially true for faith-based women of color. When we unite our diverse expertise, resources, and perspectives, our networks can devise comprehensive strategies that address various challenges, from economic disparities to representation in multiple fields.  

Here are five tips for Women of Color Connecting to Proximity and Showing Up:

  • Building and Maintain a Supportive Network: Begin by surrounding yourself with a network of individuals who can uplift and empower you. Connect with individuals who genuinely care about your well-being and aspirations.
  • Seek Mentors and Role Models: Connect with mentors and role models who share your background or have overcome similar challenges.
  • Leverage Community Resources: Engage with community organizations, faith-based groups, and nonprofit initiatives that align with your goals and values.
  • Be proactive in expressing your needs and aspirations. Whether in educational settings, workplace, or community, advocate for resources, opportunities, and environments supporting your growth and success.
  • Embrace Lifelong Learning: Cultivate a mindset of continuous learning and growth. Be open to exploring new ideas, acquiring new skills, and expanding knowledge. As a lifelong learner, it empowers you to adapt to changing circumstances, make informed decisions, and contribute meaningfully to your community.

When incorporating this additional tip into your journey, you'll be well-equipped to navigate the path of empowerment, proximity, and consistently showing up as women of color.

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