The Declining Diversity of Nonprofit Boards and What to Do about It

The Editors, Nonprofit Quarterly (Sept. 14, 2017)
With all the talk in recent years about diversity on nonprofit boards, you would think that nonprofits across the country might be prioritizing this issue, and by now we might see boards that are more representative of the populations they serve.
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Why aren’t there more leaders of color in the nonprofit sector?

Tamara Lucas Copeland, President, Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers, writes of how the reason for a lack of diverse leadership in nonprofit organizations may be due to unconscious bias and much more entrenched than we think.

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7 Things You Can Do to Improve the Sad, Pathetic State of Board Diversity

Nonprofit and Friends (Sept. 7, 2017)
BoardSource just released its report on board diversity, and the statistics are frustrating, disappointing, and somewhat anger-inducing….The lack of diversity on boards is no longer just annoying. It is a critical issue.
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Nonprofit Boards Still Not Diverse, Report Finds

Philanthropy News Digest (Sept. 7, 2017)
Nonprofit boards are no more diverse than they were two years ago and do not seem to be prioritizing diversity in their recruitment practices, a report from BoardSource finds.
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Nonprofits Boards Are Very Rich And Very White

Ben Paynter, FastCompany (Sept. 6, 2017)
A study of the state of nonprofit boards makes it clear that they have a privilege problem–and that more engaged board members are a big bonus to an organization. The group’s true goal in commissioning the study was not just to point out what’s wrong, but to set groups on a path to fix it.
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BoardSource Finds a New Platform for Action in the Face of Declining Diversity

Ruth McCambridge and Cyndi Suarez, Nonprofit Quarterly (Sept. 6, 2017)
After a fraught last few years in terms of national attention to issues of race, one would expect that nonprofit boards would demonstrate at least a modicum of advancement in the realm of diversity. The comparative statistics shown in Leading with Intent: 2017 National Index of Nonprofit Board Practices tell a different story.
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Diversity Among Nonprofit Leaders Still a Long Way Off, Report Says

Drew Lindsay, Chronicle of Philanthropy (Sept. 6, 2017)
Nonprofit leadership remains predominantly white and isn’t likely to grow more diverse anytime soon, according to a new report. Whites fill 90 percent of board seats and CEO positions, according to BoardSource, a research and support organization for nonprofit boards. More than a quarter of boards are all-white.

Those numbers have varied little since the organization began surveying board chairs and top nonprofit executives in 1994. And BoardSource concludes they aren’t likely to change, because recruitment, at least at the board level, typically doesn’t focus on diversity. Only about a quarter of board chairs and chief executives rate demographic diversity as a high priority in recruiting.

“These are really, really disappointing findings,” said Anne Wallestad, BoardSource’s president. “You would hope that we would have made much more progress in the past 20 years than we have.”
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What Are Nonprofit Boards Concerned About in 2016?

Nonprofit Quarterly (March 11, 2016)

On February 4, 2016, NPQ asked our readers to participate in a small “pulse” survey to surface some areas where BoardSource should ask questions in Leading with Intent, its big biennial survey. That is, we wanted to help BoardSource, our frequent collaborator, to tailor its questions to the current concerns of board members. Both organizations undertook this small preliminary step, and at that time, we promised to share the highlights of the findings back with you. We received 173 responses, which is a small sample, but as BoardSource describes it, “A ‘pulse’ survey is not designed to be a representative sample survey yielding a comprehensive view. Rather, it is like taking a medical pulse; it gives a rapid measure of health and clues about what is going on.”
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What Nonprofits Can Learn From #OscarsSoWhite

Monisha Kapila, The Chronicle of Philanthropy (Feb. 25, 2016)
As movie fans around the globe get ready to watch the Academy Awards this weekend, everyone in the nonprofit world should be paying attention to the #OscarsSoWhite campaign. The backlash against the all-white slate of nominees in the four acting categories exemplifies the lack of diversity and inclusion throughout the entertainment industry. This isn’t a problem just in Hollywood. When it comes to diversity, the entertainment industry has a lot in common with the nonprofit sector…
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Leading with Intent: a Call to Action for Nonprofits

Jeffrey Shields, National Business Officers Association (Dec. 2, 2015)
A dynamic group of volunteers, a hard-working staff and a well-defined mission to which both groups are committed: This is the unique ideal of nonprofit governance, but it is not easily achieved. In fact, nonprofit leaders themselves give nonprofit boards a B-minus in overall performance, according to Leading with Intent: a National Index of Nonprofit Board Practices (free to download), which synthesizes years of data involving nonprofit board practices, policies and performance.

I learned about this report last month, when I attended the 2015 BoardSource Leadership Forum along with 900 other nonprofit board chairs, CEOs, volunteers and staff. Three takeaways in particular, from a session covering the Leading with Intent findings, struck me as especially important for independent schools.
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