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New CEP Research Sheds Light on Nonprofits’ Diversity Efforts

Date: July 19, 2018

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Media Contact: Grace Nicolette, Vice President, Programming and External Relations: 617-492-0800 x236


Cambridge, MA — A new research report out today from the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP), titled Nonprofit Diversity Efforts: Current Practices and the Role of Foundations, shares nonprofit leaders’ views on their diversity pursuits — and how their foundation funders are interacting with or supporting them in this area. The report includes data on topics such as how diversity relates to the work of nonprofits, how foundations are involved in the diversity efforts of their grantees, and what demographic information nonprofits and funders alike are collecting — and how that information is used.

“Since much of the talk among foundations about diversity focuses on grantees, it’s vital to capture and lift up the voices of nonprofit leaders to ensure their needs and perspectives on their diversity efforts are heard and understood,” said Ellie Buteau, CEP’s vice president, research, who led the project. “We hope that this report can be a useful resource for foundation leaders and staff as they consider how they can most helpfully engage with their grantees on the topic of diversity.”

Findings in the report are based on survey responses from 205 leaders of nonprofit organizations with annual expenses between $100,000 and $100 million. Seventy percent of those respondents say they believe it is very or extremely important for their organization’s staff to be diverse, but only 36 percent believe their staff are actually very or extremely diverse.

When it comes to how funders and nonprofits are interacting around the topic of diversity, of the nonprofit leaders whose foundation funders request demographic information, just 21 percent say that those funders explain how that information is used. Furthermore, 42 percent of nonprofits report that their foundation funders have not discussed diversity issues with them.

“If we are going to eliminate disparities that negatively impact people of color disproportionately, funders, nonprofit leaders, policy makers, all of us need to have the courage to talk about race, racism, and how it contributes to, if not causes, the disparities we seek to eliminate,” said one nonprofit CEO responding to the survey.

This research was supported by funding from the Rita Allen Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

The report is available for free download on CEP’s website.

About the Center for Effective Philanthropy

The Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) is a nonprofit organization with a mission to provide data and create insight so philanthropic funders can better define, assess, and improve their effectiveness and impact. CEP received initial funding in 2001 and has offices in Cambridge, Massachusetts and San Francisco, California. For more information on CEP’s work, including its research, publications, programming, and assessments and advisory services, visit

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