Giving Compass' Take:

• The Chronicle of Philanthropy published, "Leaders of Color Speak Out,” highlighting 25 leaders' perspectives on race and diversity in the nonprofit sector. 

• Many leaders expressed frustration as they discussed always having to deal with racial power dynamics between themselves and grantmakers. What can the social sector as a whole do to improve these relationships and address diversity/inclusion in a meaningful way?

• Read more about how donors can support racial equity.

For the nonprofit sector, the ever-present challenge of defeating bias was painfully highlighted the week before when the Chronicle of Philanthropy published “Leaders of Color Speak Out.”

In their own words, 25 leaders speak of how the nonprofit sector is not immune to the ills of racism. As Nicole Wallace, who conducted the interviews, says, “The picture they paint isn’t pretty.”

Each of those who were interviewed has reached a position of power and influence yet still faces the challenge of being seen as alien or different. Their organizations struggle to respond to the needs of those they serve because of the inherent biases of their approach. Wallace notes, “Leaders described feeling isolated, navigating difficult, racially fraught power dynamics with grant makers, and enduring affronts to their dignity—even having people touch their hair. In interview after interview, they talked about the need to prove themselves repeatedly.”

While their titles present power and authority, their skin color limits their effectiveness because those they seek to influence challenge their authenticity. “One leader talked about how it took him five years to cultivate a substantial gift from a private foundation but when two influential white women offered to help him get access, he generated an equally substantial gift in two to three months.”

If we are to shift the needle toward true equality, those who hold power today—too often, wealthy white men—may not be comfortable as cultures shift. Tené Traylor, who oversees grantmaking at the Kendeda Fund said, “We still trust white folks to tackle black folks’ problems.”

Read the full article about nonprofit sector's issue with race and diversity by Martin Levine at Nonprofit Quarterly.