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On March 30th, 2010, the Urban Institute and the Racial Diversity Collaborative put out a report based on a study on the diversity of nonprofit leadership in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area with some rather predictable findings. The entire report is available for free download here.

Their findings?

NONPROFIT LEADERSHIP LAGS POPULATION DIVERSITY

ALL MINORITY GROUPS ARE UNDERREPRESENTED AS NONPROFIT EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS.

YOUNG LEADERS OF COLOR LAG BEHIND THEIR NON-HISPANIC WHITE COUNTERPARTS IN BECOMING NONPROFIT EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS.

THE TENURE OF A NONPROFIT EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR IS FAIRLY SHORT, PRODUCING CONSIDERABLE LEADERSHIP TURNOVER IN THE SECTOR.

EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS OF COLOR MOSTLY LEAD LOCAL AND REGIONAL ORGANIZATIONS, NOT NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS.

MEN HOLD THE MAJORITY OF NONPROFIT BOARD POSITIONS IN THE BALTIMORE-WASHINGTON REGION.

RECRUITMENT OF NONPROFIT LEADERS IS PRIMARILY ABOUT NETWORKING AND PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS.

IN THE REGION AS A WHOLE, HALF THE PAID STAFF IN THE NONPROFIT SECTOR ARE PEOPLE OF COLOR; SHARES DIFFER AMONG JURISDICTIONS.

And their conclusion?

Although all groups of color are underrepresented in the sector, Latinos are the most underrepresented. The increasing number of Latinos in the Baltimore–Washington area suggests that this inequity is likely to increase unless more attention is given to helping Latinos acquire the knowledge and skills needed to become executive directors in the sector.

Young people of color are not entering the ranks of executive directors as readily as their non-Hispanic white counterparts. Filling the leadership pipeline may require promoting the nonprofit sector to young leaders of color so they consider the sector a viable career option.

Recruitment of leaders of color focuses primarily on building networks and personal relationships. Better connections must be made between potential candidates of color and decisionmakers who fill leadership positions.

Very few national organizations have executive directors of color. Leaders of color primarily work in local or regional nonprofit organizations. Removing the glass ceiling in national organizations can expand the leadership opportunities for people of color and ultimately strengthen the sector.”

What can we do, today, to start making these relationships between young nonprofit professionals and decisionmakers who fill leadership positions?

One way we could do this is start to have college internships with students of color and nonprofit decisionmakers. For 1-3 months, the student could shadow the executive director, board chair, CDO, or other leader and get to know them, find out what they do, and help with projects.

For colleges that already offer a Masters in Public Administration this may be easy, but what about at the BA level? Why not even at the high school level? How can we foster these connections so that more people of color are aware of nonprofit careers, and more people of color start to network with decisionmakers at nonprofits?

Who do you know who is working on this issue?

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