According to a recent survey of over 200 social services and arts nonprofits in the United States, organisations that serve people of colour or are led by nonwhite executive directors are struggling to secure the funding they need.
The study focused on three types of nonprofits: those catering to immigrants’ needs, those promoting diverse cultural heritages, and folk arts nonprofits.
While one-third of the organisations surveyed served mostly white communities, the remainder served predominantly people of colour.
The study created an index to measure the financial pressures experienced by these nonprofits, with higher numbers indicating greater shortfalls.
While the average index was 11, the study found that nonprofits serving mostly nonwhite clients and those led by nonwhite executive directors had an average index that was 1.8 and 1.4 points higher, respectively, than comparable organisations.
The primary reason for this funding disparity was found to be lower revenue raised through donations and grants by nonprofits led by or serving nonwhite people, whether from the government, foundations, or corporations.
These findings reveal significant structural barriers that nonprofits serving people of colour or led by people of colour face, potentially limiting their ability to address service gaps for marginalised communities.
Additionally, the study suggests that the overrepresentation of white leaders in the nonprofit sector may make it harder for nonwhite leaders to succeed and build their careers.
The study authors believe their findings reflect typical funding patterns, even though their sample included proportionally more groups led by people of colour than is typical in the nonprofit sector.
They plan to conduct further research to determine if the racial identity of an organisations leaders or clients is connected to lower funding levels for nonprofits that rely heavily on private contributions.