You’d think that nonprofits would lead the way when it comes to diversity. After all, many serve the downtrodden, including people of color, immigrants and the poor.
A new survey of more than 1,500 nonprofits found that 90 percent of their chief executives, 90 percent of their board chairs, and 84 percent of their board members identify as white. Some 27 percent of boards identify as all white.
It bears repeating that at the same instant that 56 men signed the Declaration of Independence, swearing that “all men are created equal,” they founded a nation in which all people were not.
Does this matter? Absolutely, says Doug Stamm, the chief executive of the Meyer Memorial Trust, which lately has been engaged in what it calls an equity journey. It has put the issues of diversity and inclusion front and center for the Meyer trust and, increasingly, for the nonprofits that it supports.
For many years, the 35-year-old Meyer Memorial Trust, which was created with a bequest worth $63m from grocery story mogul Fred G. Meyer, operated as a traditional, regional foundation, making grants in response to requests from a wide array of nonprofits in Oregon and Clark County, WA. “Often times getting a grant from Meyer depended on you knew,” says Stamm. That said, Meyer has been innovative in some respects: It was the first foundation to meet all of the Foundation Center’s Glasspockets criteria for transparency and it was among the pioneers of mission-based investing.
Marc Gunther is a writer for Nonprofit Chronicles.
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