Darwinek / CC BY-SA

February 26, 2020; GoLocalProv.com

A few members of the NPQ staff are at a meeting of grantees of Borealis Philanthropy, where we are talking about working on issues of racial equity within the nonprofit and philanthropic sector. Such meetings are made critically necessary by our sector’s unwillingness to make racial equity a priority. As Kristen Munnelly points out today in her article on the departure of Vu Le from a nonprofit dedicated to developing leaders of color in the nonprofit world, multiple surveys have found that 9.5 out of 10 philanthropic organizations are led by white people, and only seven percent of nonprofit chief executives and 18 percent of nonprofit employees are people of color. This state of affairs is also demonstrated by the following report from the Rhode Island chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

AFP Rhode Island reports that even though people of color make up 30 percent of the state’s population, only three percent of the chief executive officers of that state’s nonprofits are led by people of color, and only 10 percent of board members are of color.

There may be some issues with the population surveyed, in that they were drawn from the state’s 150 largest organizations in terms of budget size. They may or may not be representative of organizations in the rest of the sector, but combined they have budgets of more than $11 billion a year. Since 37 percent of them provide healthcare and 22 percent are in the education sector, we can safely assume they serve a population that is decidedly more diverse than their top decision makers.

Women fared a bit better in their representation in top decision-making positions, but they still fell short of their representation in the population, with 43 percent of the CEO positions in these organizations being filled by women as contrasted to their 51 percent representation in the population of the state. On boards, that proportion declines somewhat, with only 38 percent of board seats filled by women.

Kelly Nevins, executive director of the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island, says, “The organizations in this report impact a broad and diverse swath of our community; ideally, their organizational leaders should also reflect the communities they serve.”—Ruth McCambridge