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Racial Affinity Space

The Nonprofit Technology Conference is a space to talk about tools, strategies, and new ideas for the way nonprofit staff make change and meet their mission. Those conversations require we also talk about the way we work with each other, the systems [of oppression] that influence our ability to do our work, and the conditions of our sector and world in which our missions make an impact. As in all of our decisions, we are guided by our values and our commitment to equity, as well as through collaboration with our community.

What is a Racial Affinity Space?

The intention of these spaces is for attendees (including speakers, exhibitors, sponsors, and general attendees) of color at 20NTC to have places to gather and connect that do not include white attendees. Racial affinity spaces allow attendees of color to center and prioritize their specific needs, voices, and experiences in a room, without introducing the potential of harm or trauma from well-intentioned white allies.

The desire by white attendees to learn, grow, and serve as allies is important; however, those goals are best reached in other avenues (including other sessions on the agenda that we will link on this page in the coming weeks) and not by participating in gatherings intended only for attendees of color. If you are a white attendee and would like resources for your own reading and learning, long-time NTEN member and course faculty Heidi Massey has curated a public list of articles and readings that include topics of white dominant culture, oppression, and anti-racist training resources. If you are interested in more reading about the need for and value of spaces specifically for attendees of color, we encourage you to review this excellent piece by Kelsey Blackwell in The Arrow.

Plans for 20NTC

Thanks to the feedback and leadership of participating facilitators and attendees in the 19NTC racial affinity spaces, we have expanded the plans for this year.

Racial Affinity Lounge — Attendees of Color Only

There will be a closed-door racial affinity lounge room that attendees of color can access at any time during conference hours. This is not a hosted or facilitated space and will not have set programming. Instead, it is intended as a dedicated space for attendees of color to relax, connect, have conversations, or get a break from the conference. Coffee, tea, and water will be available nearby in the hallway and is welcome to be brought into the room.

Racial Affinity Sessions — Attendees of Color Only

There will be a racial affinity session on each of the three days of the conference. These sessions will have a facilitator team in the room to support the group, recognizing that whoever comes to the session are the right folks to be there. The session on the first day will center on connections and healing, the second day will center on strategies for working in organizations and systems today, and the third day will center on visioning for the future. The sessions are not designed to build on each other, and there is no presentation. Attendees of color are welcome and encouraged to attend any of the sessions they wish, and there are no expectations that folks will participate in all three.

These are not educational sessions like other sessions on the 20NTC agenda. There are no presentations or learning outcomes. The facilitator team is available to support any group activities or conversations as appropriate based on feedback from those who join the session.

Community Programs — All NTC Attendees

We encourage attendees of color to submit Birds of a Feather tables, Knowledge Swap tables, or Dine Arounds as ways of extending these conversations into other areas of the conference.

DEI-Related Sessions — All NTC Attendees

We were happy to see the number of session proposals this year by both attendees of color and white attendees centering on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the sector and our organizations. There are several of them on the agenda and we encourage everyone to participate if they are of interest. We will link to them here in the coming weeks.

How to Provide Feedback

We always welcome your feedback at any time. Please email the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team to share your feedback or to set up a call, or use the anonymous online form.


Thank you to all those who have been talking with us to help shape the plans for 20NTC. They include NTEN community members, folks of color and white, who have direct experience participating in and leading racial affinity spaces and as nonprofit professionals. We appreciate their generosity and continued leadership.

Thank you to everyone in the community for your grace and support as we continue to grow as an organization and as individuals on our journey to become an anti-racist organization. We have made many mistakes and will continue to do so as we work to identify and dismantle the white dominant systems that are both internalized and surrounding our work.