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Measuring Racial-Ethnic Diversity in the Baltimore-Washington Region's Nonprofit Sector

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Document date: March 30, 2010
Released online: March 31, 2010


The nonprofit sector in the Baltimore–Washington region is undergoing a profound, albeit quiet, revolution driven by demographic change. The people and communities that nonprofits serve increasingly reflect a multiracial and multi–ethnic world, and a new generation of leaders will soon emerge as baby boomer executives retire. This report examines whether the Baltimore–Washington region's nonprofit sector reflects the new demographic realities. The report, based on a representative sample of 501(c)(3) organizations, documents the extent to which the region's nonprofit boards, staff, and executive leadership are racially and ethnically diverse. It also analyzes diversity by the organization's size, type, and geographic location, and examines how the sector has been affected by the current economic downturn.

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The nonprofit sector in the Baltimore–Washington region is undergoing a profound, albeit quiet, revolution driven by demographic change. First, the people and communities that nonprofit organizations serve increasingly reflect a multiracial and multi–ethnic world. No longer is the region primarily a white–black society. It now has residents from all parts of the globe that bring different cultures, languages, and values to the region.

Second, nonprofit–sector leadership is beginning to move to the next generation. About a quarter of all nonprofits in the Baltimore–Washington region are led by baby boomer chief executives. As these leaders retire and phase out of active roles, a new cadre of leaders will take up the sector's reins and direct its work. How ready is the sector to address this important transition?

To learn whether the Baltimore–Washington region's nonprofit sector reflects current demographic realities, the Baltimore–Washington Regional Nonprofit Racial Diversity Collaborative (the Collaborative) commissioned the Urban Institute's Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy to survey nonprofit organizations in the region and study the diversity of nonprofit executive directors, governing boards, and paid staff.

The Study's Questions
This report addresses four questions:

  • What percentage of executive directors, board members, and paid staff in the sector is people of color, and what percentage is members of specific racial–ethnic communities?
  • Is there a gender difference in the leadership of organizations led by people of color?
  • How does the diversity of nonprofit leadership vary by the size of the organization, field of activity, or geographic location within the region?
  • What effects, if any, is the current economy having on nonprofit organizations in terms of demand for services and funding, and are the effects correlated with the racial and ethnic diversity of organizational leadership?

The findings of this study provide a valuable baseline for understanding how racially and ethnically diverse the nonprofit sector in the Baltimore–Washington region is. The findings also give an important context for the Collaborative's efforts to promote diversity and strengthen the skills of minority leaders.

About the Survey
The survey is based on a representative sample of 501(c)(3) organizations in the Baltimore–Washington region. The sample was stratified by counties within the region, type of nonprofit, and size of organization to ensure good representation of nonprofits across the region. Hospitals and higher education are excluded from the sample. Data were collected using a mixed–mode technique (e.g., by mail, web, and telephone). The survey resulted in 283 usable responses, yielding a response rate of 32.6 percent. Further detail on regional definitions and the types of nonprofits in the study can be found in the appendices.

(End of excerpt. The full report is available in PDF format.)

Related Resource

Measuring Racial-Ethnic Diversity in California's Nonprofit Sector

Topics/Tags: | Nonprofits | Race/Ethnicity/Gender | Washington D.C. Region

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