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Nonprofits advancing racial equity

Young black man walking in front of a large Black Lives Matter banner

Amid the current uprisings around Black Lives Matter, anti-racism, and ending police violence, many are turning to Candid tools to inform their giving and to get data to support racial equity in the social sector. Candid’s research team took this moment to look at the breadth of our nonprofit data and see what Candid might have to add to the conversation. Here’s what we’ve found so far.

Virtually overnight, website traffic to social justice organizations spiked. Through GuideStar, Candid provides information about the nearly 1.8 million nonprofits registered with the IRS. In the two weeks following the killing of George Floyd, we saw dramatic increases in web traffic to organizations that were appearing in the news, shared on social media, or relevant to the movement against systemic racism. The Minnesota Freedom Fund quickly became the second-most searched nonprofit on GuideStar, with more than 11,000 profile views.

Other equity and justice organizations also received far more views than they had in the prior two weeks. For example, the Equal Justice Initiative jumped from 41 to 7,298 views. We the Protesters and the National Police Accountability Project weren’t searched before George Floyd’s death but afterward had more than 1,000 views each.

Table of 10 most viewed justice organizations between 5/26 and 6/7/2020

The increased interest in these justice organizations is unsurprising. And as people demonstrate their support for racial equity and justice through financial donations, small grassroots organizations are finding themselves in the spotlight and under scrutiny for not distributing funds quickly enough. While the public (rightly) demands transparency and accountability, they are also calling for understanding and patience as nonprofits adapt and ramp up their activities.

More than 200 nonprofits working toward racial equity demonstrate organizational transparency. Candid recognizes organizations that voluntarily share information about their activities with Seals of Transparency on their GuideStar Nonprofit Profiles. More than 200 nonprofits that focus on racial equity hold either Gold or Platinum Seals, the top two levels. Of them, the most common type are advocacy organizations, followed by youth development programs.

One of the organizations we found is Mission Fulfilled 2030, which works to create opportunities for young Black males to enter the technology workforce and thus decrease racial income inequality and the wealth gap. Another organization, SisterSong, works across the nation to amplify and strengthen the voices of Indigenous women and women of color to advance human rights and reproductive justice initiatives. Their Trust Black Women program identifies Black women’s leadership and issues as a strategic priority.

Many more organizations are working to create racial justice. You can find them on GuideStar by searching by keyword, geography, and other criteria. And all U.S. nonprofits can share more information about their work with the world by updating their Nonprofit Profiles. It’s free. In the past, greater transparency has correlated with higher contributions.

Among nonprofits that share demographic data, 14 percent are led by a Black executive. For years, advocates have called attention to racial disparities in nonprofit leadership. Through GuideStar, nonprofits can voluntarily share information about their organizations’ demographic characteristics, including the race and ethnicity of their leadership, board, and staff. In the past year, nearly 6,000 organizations have shared some demographic information. Of the 4,423 organizations that shared information about their top executives, 29 percent were led by a person of color; 608 organizations (14 percent) were led by a Black executive.

Table showing race/ethnicity of nonprofit executives

This is, admittedly, a self-selected group of organizations, not a representative sample, and organizations with diverse leadership may be more likely to contribute this information. By comparison, a number of studies in the past decade have documented that the proportion of organizations where the top leadership position is held by a person of color has not exceeded 20 percent (it may even be as low as 8 percent).

To improve transparency for the sector, GuideStar makes public the demographic data that organizations share. To find these organizations, there’s a filter in the “Organization” tab of the GuideStar search to “Show only organizations that have provided data on diversity, equity, and inclusion.” From there, you can review a Nonprofit Profile for information about those demographic characteristics as well as more information about the organization’s work.

Nonprofits can easily help improve the sector’s diversity data. Candid invites all nonprofits to share their demographic data. We know that diversity alone does not ensure equity. But the commitment to sharing demographic data is an opportunity for organizational self-reflection, and, as that information is shared, we, as a sector, can learn together about where we are, collectively, on this equity journey. (For our part, Candid is continuing to learn about how best to collect diversity data for the sector.)

Candid will continue to advance racial justice through robust, transparent data and timely analysis. We are updating our racial equity page, which contains news, grants data, and resources, and we will continue to publish insights on topics such as racial equity in philanthropy and COVID-19’s impact on communities of color. We know there are still more questions to answer, and we’re eager to explore answers together and learn from organizations steeped in this work every day.


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