What We're Thinking

Nonprofits, Leadership, and Race

This past year, we were proud to join the Annie E. Casey Foundation and an anonymous fund in supporting the Building Movement Project’s Nonprofits, Leadership, and Race survey. The initial results from the survey were recently released in a report called Race to Lead: Confronting the Nonprofit Racial Leadership Gap.

The report provides an unprecedented look into the dynamics behind the racial leadership gap for nonprofits across the country. For example, the “results call into question the common assumption that to increase the diversity of nonprofit leaders, people of color need more training. The findings point to a new narrative. To increase the number of people of color leaders, the nonprofit sector needs to address the practices and biases of those governing nonprofit organizations. Rather than focus on the perceived deficits of potential leaders of color, the sector should concentrate on educating nonprofit decision-makers on the issues of race equity and implicit bias accompanied by changes in action leading to measurable results. This transfers the responsibility for the racial leadership gap from those who are targeted (people of color) to those who oversee organizations as well as the sector overall, which needs to embrace systems change work to ensure that its policies, practices, and culture are aligned with the values of diversity, inclusion, and equity.”

Many thanks to the thousands of participants in the survey, to all those who promoted the survey, to Frances Kunreuther and Sean Thomas-Breitfeld for their leadership, and to the Annie E. Casey Foundation for providing primary funding for this important work. It is our hope that this report will stimulate many conversations across the field on specific actions that can be taken to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion for the key driver of success for all nonprofit organizations – our people.

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