New CEP research shares data on nonprofits’ diversity efforts

CEP’s newest research report captures nonprofit leaders’ views on their diversity efforts — and how their foundation funders are interacting with them in this area. The report, titled Nonprofit Diversity Efforts: Current Practices and the Role of Foundations, is full of data that can be helpful for foundation leaders and staff as they consider how they can most effectively engage with and support their grantees on the topic of diversity.

Based on survey responses from 205 nonprofit leaders, the report covers topics such as how diversity relates to nonprofits’ work, how foundations are involved in the diversity efforts of grantees, and what demographic information nonprofits and funders alike are collecting — and how that information is used.

Among the many data points in the report, CEP found that while 70 percent of nonprofit CEOs believe it is very or extremely important for their organization’s staff to be diverse, only 36 percent believe their staff are actually very or extremely diverse. The report shares data broken down by diversity in different areas, too. When it comes to disability, 59 percent of nonprofit leaders believe their organization is not very diverse or not at all diverse when it comes to disability, and only 11 percent of nonprofit CEOs believe their organizations are reflecting the populations they seek to serve extremely well when it comes to disability.

In terms of how foundation funders are interacting with grantees when it comes to their diversity efforts, 42 percent of nonprofit CEOs report that their organization’s foundation funders have not discussed diversity issues with them. And of the nonprofit CEOs whose foundation funders request demographic information, only 21 percent report that those funders explain how they use the demographic information they collect.

CEP Vice President, Research, Ellie Buteau led the research effort and discussed the report in a post on the CEP blog. “We hope that the data proves useful for foundations and nonprofits alike, and that it sparks more conversation between the two about how and why diversity is essential for the effectiveness of nonprofits and their foundation funders,” she writes.

The report’s findings were also covered in The Chronicle of PhilanthropyInside Philanthropy, and The NonProfit Times.

You can download the report for free on CEP’s website. Stay tuned to the CEP blog in the coming weeks as experts from the field react to the data in the report. (Subscribe to the blog to ensure you don’t miss a single one!)

CEP’s First Resource for Individual Donors Outlines Five Things Nonprofits Want Donors to Know

A new resource from CEP — its first geared toward individual donors and those giving outside of a foundation structure — lays out five things that nonprofit leaders want donors to know so they can best support nonprofit organizations to do their most effective work. The resource, titled Donors: 5 Things Nonprofits Want You to Know, is based on what CEP has heard from more than 100,000 nonprofit leaders through candid, anonymous feedback over the last 15 years.

CEP’s research shows these five things to be: 1. Understanding the needs of the constituents that nonprofits are serving is essential for donors and nonprofits alike; 2. Strong relationships between donors and nonprofits are grounded in understanding and openness; 3. Generous, unrestricted financial support best enables nonprofit leaders to strengthen their organizations; 4. Most nonprofits want to assess their performance so they can learn and improve, and they could use more support to do this; and 5. Providing support beyond money can help nonprofit staffs strengthen their skills, make important connections, and better pursue their missions.

Several posts on the CEP blog reflected on the report’s insights.

  • Lindsay Louie, program officer for Philanthropy Grantmaking at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, lays out three harms that donors can avoid creating for the nonprofits they want to support. “The very act of giving in itself matters a lot. But it doesn’t mean that all giving is equally helpful,” she writes. “To really maximize the difference you make, and certainly to minimize avoidable harm, remember that how you give matters, too.”
  • Alex Forrester, co-founder of the nonprofit Rising Tide Capital, discusses the importance of flexible funding in the context of CEP’s resource.
  • And Adrian Tirtanadi, executive director of the nonprofit Open Door Legal, uses the case of helping domestic violence survivors to illustrate how important it is for donors to ask nonprofits the right questions if they are to be the most helpful in their philanthropy.

A Year in Review at CEP

One national conference, six research reports, 91 assessment and advisory services engagements, 198,775 students surveyed by YouthTruth. Learn more about everything CEP got up to last year in our 2017 Annual Report.

On the CEP Blog

Several guest bloggers shared their reactions and responses to CEP’s research on how U.S. nonprofit and foundation leaders are viewing the possible implications of the new tax law — and the potential role they see funders playing in helping grantees respond to it.

  • In a comprehensive post, National Council of Nonprofits President & CEO Tim Delaney lays out urgent action steps for foundations and nonprofits to step up their work in the policy arena to defend the sector and fend off future threats.
  • David Biemesderfer, president & CEO of the United Philanthropy Forum, focuses on the need for philanthropy to embrace the power of its voice and “step up to speak in a bigger, stronger, and more forceful way to policymakers and the broader community about the value of the nonprofit sector to our civil society — and the importance of supporting nonprofits to ensure the health and well-being of our communities.”
  • Nell Edgington of Social Velocity takes an optimistic view, acknowledging the concerning possibilities but pointing to several opportunities that the moment presents, such as building more sustainable nonprofit financial models, growing foundation advocacy for the nonprofit sector, and creating more networked nonprofits.
  • Amy Cheney, who leads the Cincinnati-based nonprofit Crayons to Computers, poses and responds to the question: “Amid all this uncertainty, what’s a nonprofit to do?”
  • And Greater Milwaukee Foundation President and CEO Ellen Gilligan discusses how community foundations can focus on understanding opportunities to grow giving in the wake of the tax bill.

Recent posts from CEP staff and guest bloggers explored several other topics and issue areas as well.

CEP Vice President, Research, Ellie Buteau details the values that guide CEP’s research — and why these values are so central to the work we do. “We believe foundations are crucial institutions, and we don’t want to provide conclusions and recommendations to their leaders that can’t be backed by rigorous research,” Buteau writes.

CEP Director, Research, Naomi Orensten shares key takeaways from a recent third party survey of CEP’s broad stakeholders and assessment and advisory services users, and how these insights on CEP’s role and impact will inform our current strategic planning efforts.

In a timely postKalia Abiade, director of programs at the Pillars Fund, writes about how philanthropy can support leaders in American Muslim communities working to advance racial and economic justice for all people.

Anthony Richardson, associate director at the Nord Family Foundation, presents five practices and strategies for foundations to consider to ensure they are funding what nonprofits truly need.

CEP Director, Assessment and Advisory Services, Austin Long highlights the ways in which several recent users of CEP’s Grantee Perception Report (GPR) discussed their results publicly and closed the feedback loop with their grantees.

Malcolm Macleod, president and CEO of the Johnson Scholarship Foundation, tells the story of how his foundation is reevaluating its thinking about communication, choosing to move its focus past raising awareness to a more targeted approach driven by “purpose, discipline, humility, and effort.”

Marilyn Darling discusses findings of Fourth Quadrant Partners’ research on emergent initiatives — those in which “ideas emerged from a diverse set of people doing the work (rather than being designed in advance and rolled out), the path to success could not have been completely predicted in advance, and the solutions were fit to their environment and continued to evolve over time and circumstance.”

The team at Open Impact — Adene SacksHeather McLeod Grant, and Kate Wilkinson — share findings from interviews with nonprofit leaders about how they are thinking about organizational capacity, and how funders can help them, in the context of the new realities and challenges of 2018.

Stuart Foundation President Jonathan Raymond reflects on his experience as a superintendent and foundation leader, sharing insights about whole child education and what educators and funders alike can do to help children thrive.

CEP in the News

In a piece for Stanford Social Innovation Review on how leaders in the social sector can — and must — strengthen their organizational cultures in service of stronger performance, Alexa Cortes Culwell points to CEP as an exemplar when it comes to accountability practices.

“CEP practices what it preaches through an annual staff climate and engagement survey, administered by a third party and benchmarked against external organizations,” she writes. “It also employs a 360-feedback process in which anyone on staff can provide anonymous feedback about any other staff member, starting with the CEO. Both the staff survey and all staff feedback on the CEO go, unedited, to the board of directors, which then draws on this data for his performance review and bonus consideration. Open-ended questions cover strengths and areas for improvement in the context of specific cultural traits and behaviors the organization has deemed important.”

Inside Philanthropy wrote about the Barr Foundation’s Grantee Perception Report (GPR) and how it transparently reflected on results, shared findings back with grantees, and closed the feedback loop. “Getting candid, comparative feedback from nonprofits they support is crucial for funders, given the power dynamics between those seeking resources and those who possess them,” CEP President Phil Buchanan is quoted as saying in the article. “Funders should close the loop with grantees after receiving results of their Grantee Perception Report by communicating what they’ve learned and what steps they plan to take.”

Reflecting in Alliance Magazine on her experience at this month’s United Philanthropy Forum Conference in Boston, CEP’s Grace Nicolette discusses the importance of applying lessons learned about racial equity and inclusion in both our professional and personal lives.

CEP is Hiring!

Do you know a highly organized and detail-oriented administrative professional interested in helping CEP communicate its work externally? Is that person you? CEP just launched a search for an executive assistant on the programming and external relations team. This person will play a major role in CEP’s communications efforts, including tracking analytics, supporting event planning, and maintaining databases and campaigns. You can see the full job description here. Spread the word!

New Faces at CEP

CEP and YouthTruth have welcomed aboard three new analysts this summer: Hannah Martin has joined the research team, Logan Rowland has joined YouthTruth, and Cathy Zhang has joined the assessment and advisory services team. Welcome Hannah, Logan, and Cathy!

Last chance to participate in an assessment in 2018!

Our upcoming survey round in September is the last chance this year to work with CEP to gather feedback from important stakeholders through the Grantee Perception Report (GPR), Staff Perception Report (SPR), and/or Donor Perception Report (DPR) for community foundations. As a reminder, if your organization is a Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO) member and you haven’t worked with CEP before on an assessment, you’re eligible for an exclusive discount! Time is running out to sign up, so please reach out to Director, Assessment and Advisory Services, Austin Long, at 415-391-3070 x127 if you’d like to get a quote or learn more about CEP’s assessment and advisory services offerings.

Save the Date for the 2019 CEP Conference

If you haven’t already, please block off May 7-9, 2019 in your calendar for the 2019 CEP Conference in Minneapolis–Saint Paul! Stay tuned for announcements about speakers and the opening of registration in the coming months.

Support CEP

Have you applied insights to your work from CEP research? Are you a regular reader of the CEP blog? CEP has a significant earned revenue stream through commissioned assessments and advisory services engagements, but we rely on grant support to pursue a number of our core activities, including our research, communications efforts, and making improvements to our assessments and YouthTruth tools. You can make a personal donation to CEP here. And if you’re a funder interested in providing grant support to CEP — unrestricted support, support for a specific research initiative, or support for our YouthTruth initiative — contact CEP Vice President, Programming and External Relations, Grace Nicolette at, or 617-674-0763.