By virtually every measure – including number of registered organizations, total employment, and overall social and economic impact – the nation’s nonprofit sector continues to grow in size and influence. Nevertheless, this steadily rising tide has not lifted the boats of all those who work for nonprofits. Specifically, women of color working in the nonprofit sector encounter systemic obstacles to their advancement, over and above the barriers faced by White women and men of color.
That’s the sobering and unsettling conclusion of Race to Lead: Women of Color in the Nonprofit Sector, a new report by the Building Movement Project (BMP). It’s based on data from a survey of more than 4,000 respondents in the nonprofit sector, along with focus groups and interviews. It follows up on an earlier “Race to Lead” report, which BMP published in 2017, on the nonprofit racial leadership gap.
Some key findings of this new report include:
The report also includes a section detailing key themes from survey write-in responses by women of color and from focus groups and interviews conducted with Asian/Pacific Islander, Black, Latinx, Native American, and transgender women of color.
The findings of this report lead us to this conclusion: In response to the Movement for Black Lives and the struggles for the rights of indigenous peoples and immigrants, nonprofit leaders have become more adept at talking about intersectionality, anti-Black racism, and de-colonization. But the Race to Lead data show that nonprofit organizations need to dramatically change more than the words we use on our websites and in our grant reports. Real change means re-shaping the hierarchies and power structures in the nonprofit sector, the ways organizations behave, and how they treat their staff, particularly women of color.
Some solutions BMP recommends include: