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ABFE and Candid partner on new research on Black leaders

By Michell Speight (she/her) & Cathleen Clerkin (she/her)
June 7, 2022

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There is a glaring gap in the representation of Black people in top positions in organizations, along with a general lack of resources, support, and opportunities for Black leaders and Black-focused organizations. This is not a pipeline problem. Building Movement Project studied over 4,000 nonprofit employees and found no difference in qualifications, leadership aspirations, or skillsets between white people and people of color. Instead, it is a lack of opportunity, equity, and inclusion.   

To better understand how to address anti-Black racism, the social sector needs a stronger research foundation. To this end, ABFE and Candid are engaging in a multi-year partnership that leverages Candid’s data collections and ABFE’s subject matter expertise to explore Black leadership in the social sector. The overarching purpose of this collaboration is to create and publish research and insights that spark sector-wide understanding and discourse on Black leadership. We also aim to provide practical advice on how scholars, consultants, funders, human resource representatives, and leaders in the nonprofit sector can work together to address anti-Black racism effectively. 

Why Candid and ABFE? 

This work is too important to do in a silo. To do this work right, we need multiple perspectives and expertise to ensure rigorous scientific methodology and thoughtful interpretation of the findings. We believe ABFE and Candid offer complementary skill sets and lived experience for this work. Founded in 1971, ABFE has organized, advocated, and strategized on behalf of Black people inside and outside philanthropy. Candid, in turn, has the most comprehensive database about the social sector, including leadership demographics (the current demographic dataset includes 36,000+ organizations). Candid and ABFE have also convened a panel of external advisors with expertise in research, academia, and thought leadership to review and provide insight and feedback on this work. 

About the research  

This project will leverage Candid’s unique database, including demographic information about organizations’ current CEO/executive director(s), board, and staff and data on funding and resources. We will also invest in additional data sources and approaches as needed, including conducting qualitative interviews and focus groups with Black leaders to understand how the statistical pattern of quantitative results translates into concrete lived experiences and perspectives. 

For the initial year of the partnership, Candid and ABFE will focus on creating two research reports to answer these questions respectively:  

  • What does it mean to be Black-led in the social sector?
  • What do we know about funding support for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)?  

What does it mean to be Black-led? 

There are currently many different definitions of “Black-led.” (Does “Black-led” refer to organizations that have Black CEOs? Black majority boards? Black constituencies?). In this collaborative report, we will provide estimates of how many organizations in the sector fall under these different definitions and examine how “what it means to be Black-led" may shift depending on definitions and outcomes.  

Philanthropic funding for HBCUs 

HBCUs are crucial Black-led institutions. They play an essential role in creating the Black community and developing future Black leaders. However, federal funding has declined, and HBCU endowments often lag behind those of other colleges. This report will examine what philanthropic funding has looked like for HBCUs over the last two decades. The analysis will include how trends may have shifted in the previous few years and examine overall patterns and gaps in funding.  

Stay tuned 

We are still in the early stages of our initial analyses for these reports. However, we will share learnings as they develop and release both reports with a full analysis on each topic. Please continue to check back for updates.  

Tags: racial equity