Giving Compass' Take:

• Jacob Harold, writing for Candid, explores the importance of using data to measure and ask questions about racial equity in nonprofits, both implicitly and explicitly. 

• Why is racial equity in nonprofits so hard to measure? Why is it doubly as important? How can we look at innovative strategies to measure equity and hold foundations accountable?

• Read about how funders can use demographic data to support equity in nonprofits.

Foundations and nonprofits exist to make a better world. The racial equity conversation in the United States has led to a new round of questions about how they contribute to that better world. How much philanthropic capital is directed to communities of color? Does the leadership of the social sector reflect the diversity of our society? These questions are essential—and difficult to answer.

Candid gets at least ten different types of questions about racial equity, which we can organize into three general categories: (1) Where does money go? (2) Who leads organizations? (3) What do organizations do?

Each of these questions offers room for interpretation. Consider leadership. When someone asks if an organization is “led by people of color,” they could mean one of at least four things: (1) the CEO is a person of color; (2) the majority of the leadership team is made up of people of color; (3) most staff members are people of color; or (4) the majority of the board of directors comprises people of color. Every one of those is a relevant question for both nonprofits and foundations; each reflects organizational power in a different way.

At Candid we believe we are effectively capturing explicit grantmaking. Implicit grantmaking is harder. In addition, we acknowledge that much grantmaking is motivated by a more general altruism and does not target a particular population group. Our data explains much of a complex story, but not all of it.

As a field, we can continue to improve our data. And we’re going to need to. Systemic racism has been with us for centuries. Perhaps now can be the moment when we accelerate our shared journey toward racial justice. Data can help us navigate the choices ahead.

Read the full article about equity in nonprofits by Jacob Harold at Candid.