The larger the nonprofit, the more likely it is run by a white man, says new Candid diversity report

By AP News


White men are most likely to lead the largest, best-funded nonprofits, while women of color tend to lead the organizations with the fewest financial resources, according to a study from the nonprofit data research organization Candid released Thursday

Philanthropy Candid Diversity


White men are most likely to lead the largest, best-funded nonprofits, while women of color tend to lead the organizations with the fewest financial resources, according to a study from the nonprofit data research organization Candid.

“The State of Diversity in the U.S. Nonprofit Sector” report released by Candid on Thursday is the largest demographic study of the nonprofit sector, based on diversity information provided by nearly 60,000 public charities.

According to the study, white CEOs lead 74% of organizations with more than $25 million in annual revenue, with white men heading 41% of those nonprofits, despite being only about 30% of the population. Women of color, who make up about 20% of the U.S. population, lead 14% of the organizations with more than $25 million in revenue and 28% of the smallest nonprofits — those with less than $50,000 in revenue.

The Candid report provides data for nonprofits who have complained for years that minority-led nonprofits attract fewer donations, government resources and sales, even after the racial reckoning following the murder of George Floyd and promises from funders of all sizes seeking change. According to a report from the Ms. Foundation for Women and the consulting group Strength in Numbers, less than 1% of the $67 billion that foundations donated in 2017 was earmarked specifically for minority women and girls.

“Our mission is to use data to help make the whole sector more efficient, effective and equitable,” Candid CEO Ann Mei Chang told The Associated Press. “We think that data is a force for good and can help everybody trying to do good, to do good better.”

The report’s findings are based on data gathered from the Demographics via Candid initiative, where nonprofits voluntarily report the diversity numbers of their organizations. Cathleen Clerkin, Candid's associate vice president of research, said authors of the report compared its findings to other sector-wide data and found them to be consistent.

Because the diversity information was self-reported, Clerkin said Candid studied whether nonprofits would be more likely to share their information because they were more diverse, but found that was not the case. What was more likely to determine whether a nonprofit reported its diversity information was how much they depended on outside donations, she said.

The report found that environmental and animal welfare groups were least likely to have diverse leadership, with 88% having a white CEO. Nearly three-quarters of religious nonprofits had white CEOs, according to the report.

Portia Allen-Kyle, chief of staff and interim head of external affairs at the racial justice nonprofit Color of Change, said the report's findings were not surprising. “The backsliding of Black leadership and other underrepresented populations is exactly what we unfortunately expect to see in an era of attacks on the tools of Black power like affirmative action, like DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion), et cetera,” she said. ”It's a nonprofit space where disproportionately white leaders disproportionately receive resources from these white, ultrawealthy donors, while Black leaders from the most impacted communities are expected to often turn water into wine, using nothing but pennies on the dollar."

Allen-Kyle said the fact that the report also finds that women of color are overrepresented as leaders of the smallest charities is also not a surprise. "With these small nonprofits, especially with advocacy, Black women are going to be doing this work regardless and they’re doing it on nothing and whether or not they get paid because they believe in it,” she said.

The report also found that Latinos were underrepresented as nonprofit CEOs in nearly every state.

“We have been talking about that for decades,” said Frankie Miranda, president and CEO of the Hispanic Federation, which supports Latino communities and nonprofits. "It's the reason the Hispanic Federation was created in 1990 — to advocate for Latino-led, Latino-serving providers because we were not part of the conversation when decision-making around funding and support was happening.”

That has led to Hispanic Federation becoming one of the nation's largest grantmakers for Latino nonprofits. However, even though its findings are not unexpected, the Candid study is still extraordinarily valuable, Miranda said.

“This study will validate our argument," he said. “This is critically important for us to be able to say, ‘Here’s the proof.’ It's proof for major donors that you need to do better when it comes to diversity within your organization. Your institution needs to have the cultural competency to understand the importance of investing in our organizations, the importance of getting to know these organizations. They know how to serve these communities.”


Associated Press coverage of philanthropy and nonprofits receives support through the AP’s collaboration with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely responsible for this content. For all of AP’s philanthropy coverage, visit


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