The New York Times recently announced that the crusade to stop DEI has become the cornerstone of a concerted campaign against ‘woke-ism.’ You know the acronym stands for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. However, most people don’t understand the differences between being ‘woke’ and supporting DEI.

Recently, my firm, Fit Fundraising, stepped into the middle of this debate. I made a public statement and released a series of podcasts in support of DEI, emphasizing the importance of enhanced training and capability preparedness for marginalized members in nonprofit development programs. The backlash was truly unexpected. Hundreds of people unfollowed me, and dozens blasted me with obscenities and expletives, accusing me of being ‘woke and embracing left-wing politics.’

The term ‘staying woke’ originated after the 2014 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. It was a call for people to stay alert to unjust tactics and brutality by police in specific communities. Originally, the term was powerful and effective in helping to raise awareness.

However, over the last decade, the political left co-opted the word because of its effectiveness and used it like a firehose to spew every leftist ideology you can think of. The reframing of ‘woke’ is what politicians do to corral more people into political leftism and to try to denigrate the culture into a single ideology.

What does DEI have to do with modern ‘woke-ism’ today? Absolutely nothing! The word ‘woke’ today has become exclusionary, often leading to the cancel culture and a mindset of dividing the culture. Diversity does just the opposite. It is about creating an environment where everyone is included, and DEI ensures that everyone is appreciated. It is about meeting people where they are, closing the gaps where inequities occur, and removing barriers or arbitrary glass ceilings, especially those based upon capability, education, and opportunity.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion do not divide us; they unite us. Make no mistake about it, I am not going woke. I am standing for what is right. DEI will improve our culture, build stronger nonprofit organizations and, most importantly, remove barriers so we all can succeed. We can support diversity without going ‘woke.’ Join us!

Fit Fundraising works with nonprofits, large and small, in human services, international relief, advocacy and education.  Founder Roy Jones has helped raise more than half a billion dollars over the last decade alone. Ready to elevate your fundraising efforts to new heights? Discover how Fit Fundraising can transform your results. You can reach Roy at