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In a 2017 report from The Center for Effective Philanthropy, 100 percent of foundations and more than 90 percent of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) believed that diversity would help organizations appear more connected to communities. And 90 percent of both groups indicated that diversity would lead to increased creativity.But when it comes to diversity among nonprofits, there is significant room for improvement. Many nonprofits are not keeping up with the demographic shifts in the general population. For example, nearly 30 percent of the population is comprised of people of non-Caucasian backgrounds, a figure expected to grow to 50 percent by 2042, according to U.S. Census data. And the Hispanic/Latino population is one of the fastest growing minority groups in the country, currently representing 15 percent of the overall population. These population increases are already contributing to changes in the labor pool. Within the next five years, more than 43 percent of new entrants to the workforce will be people of color.
This kind of growth reinforces the need for nonprofits to reflect the communities they serve. Today, only 18 percent of nonprofits and 22 percent of foundation staff is comprised of people of color, according to Community Wealth Partners. For foundations, this number only gets smaller in leadership and board member positions.
It’s no secret that when a team includes people of different genders, ethnicities, cultural backgrounds, or sexual orientations, it produces more creative, innovative, and effective results. That's because diverse groups offer a wider range of experiences, and don't simply recycle the same ideas produced by people of similar backgrounds. According to a January 2018 McKinsey & Company report, “Delivering through Diversity,” companies with the most gender diversity on their executive teams were 15 percent more likely to experience above-average profitability than their counterparts. With such positive results to the bottom line, nonprofits of all kinds are feeling the pressure from a moral and political standpoint to ensure there is diversity represented in both the grantees and the projects they enable. Consider these ways to get started:
Ensuring a diverse applicant pool is complex and doesn’t happen overnight. However, with the right amount of time and senior leadership support, your organization could see the benefits of stronger business performance based on a more diverse pool of applicants and the projects you fund. In the meantime, consider your strengths. Applications that are easy to access, understandable, and are compliant with The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) will always help make your nonprofit more accessible to a more diverse group.