Mind the Gap!

In case you missed it, there has been a widening divide in the country between whites and people of color.  No, I am NOT talking about politics, economics, or even education.  I’m talking about a divide in the nonprofit sector – specifically in the arena of nonprofit leadership.

Unlike its more popular gap-siblings, the “socio-economic gap” or the “educational-achievement gap”, the “nonprofit leadership gap” rarely gets much mention and yet is just as destructive for communities of color.  At present, roughly 74% of nonprofit entrepreneurs are White, while only 5 percent are Black and only a paltry 2% are Latino.  Why this is alarming is because according to sources like the Annie E. Casey Foundation, at least 60 percent of nonprofits serve people of color.

Each year, multiple-billions of dollars are dispersed to nonprofits by trusts, foundations and the US government to fund business, personal, housing, educational and other human service needs.  In fact, a large percentage of government grants benefit people of color the most – thanks in large part to the “gap-siblings” which makes communities of color among the neediest populations.

Why should a lack of color in nonprofit leadership concern you?  Because if billions of dollars are flowing through communities of color to help communities of color, then shouldn’t people of color have power and control over those billions or at the very least a say in how, when, where, why and on what those billions get spent?

In Philadelphia, members of PAALF (Philadelphia African American Leadership Forum) conducted an extensive survey of the city’s human service-oriented nonprofit organizations. Key findings emerged that are all too often mirrored around the country:

  • Organizations led by African Americans are smaller, as defined by number of staff and volunteers.
  • African American-led organizations have fewer cash reserves and are more dependent on government grants than white-led organizations.
  • Predominately Black boards struggle with access to key social networks, which can negatively impact access to funding.
  • The paucity of African American senior staff at white-led organizations also has implications on the future pipeline of African American leaders.
  • African American-led organizations are more likely to serve the neediest populations with the least resources while being located where services are needed most.

 To be fair, I am not suggesting that there is some covert conspiracy being perpetrated by the white nonprofit establishment to ostracize minorities.  In fact, I applaud anybody – regardless of ethnicity – who has the passion and dedication to uplift the under-served.  However, diversity and inclusion DOES matter.  People of color should be starting their own nonprofit enterprises, applying for directorships on nonprofit Boards and pursuing C-suite roles in the industry if for no other reason than to prove to the community that hope and help comes in a rainbow of colors.

As an African American with a career stake in the nonprofit sector, I get deeply concerned – as should you be – when any voice is silenced, diverse perspectives are dimmed, and alternate priorities are diminished or shoved to the back burner simply due to lack of representation around the table.


As a nonprofit expert, I focus on established nonprofits who have a ton of HEART for the work, but struggle with funding.  I teach the insider tips, tricks, and strategies that I learned from consulting with the top 100 companies in South Africa along with nearly a decade working for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

If you have a nonprofit concern, contact me for a complimentary, no-obligation, 45-minute private call and I’ll send you the “Top 10 Challenges Facing Nonprofits in 2017.” No opt-in required!  There is an entire community that needs what you have to offer. I have limited availability, so do yourself a favor and apply for free today!

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