Diversity of nonprofit boards matters.
It matters because nonprofits are organizations invested in and accountable to the community, and nonprofit leaders should reflect the demographics of the people they serve. If nonprofits are going to stay relevant, effective and responsive to the needs of the communities they serve, than nonprofit boards must make diversity a priority.
Where does Austin stand on board diversity right now? Here are some most recent points:
- People of color are driving the population growth in Central Texas (Source: Ryan Robinson, City of Austin Demographer, 2015)
- Austin is comprised of 36% Latino, 8% African- American and 6% Asian (Source: Austin Chamber of Commerce, based on 2013 Census Data)
- Austin is becoming more multicultural in its people but also in its identity and character. (Source: See Discussion on The Austin Times)
- Latinos account for only 11% of nonprofit board members. (Source: Greenlights Central Texas Board Report, 2011)
Increasing nonprofit board diversity is not just the right thing to do anymore. In fact, nonprofits that limit themselves to leaders from the same racial and socioeconomic pools find themselves struggling to raise money, engage community groups and advocate for their cause. This is not where healthy, vibrant nonprofits need to be.
The way we recruit board members has to change. Typically board members are recruited by introductions to people already connected to current board members. It’s rare that there are open calls for board positions, and even those like Greenlights’ Board Summit have not proven to increase board diversity. When a person of color is publicly identified as a prospective community leader, that person is heavily recruited by a number of nonprofit boards. In Austin right now, there is a phenomenon of a dozen or so leaders of color serving on multiple boards at the same time.
Surely, there’s a better way to increase board diversity.
This is where the New Philanthropists (TNP) comes in. A project of Mando Rayo + Collective and GivingCity Austin, TNP’s vision is to have a more diverse and inclusive nonprofit sector that is reflective of the Austin community. And not just for the sake of diversity but to be reflective of the people that make up Austin and ultimately to address the issues that are affecting our communities.
Our main objective is to address the leadership gap that exists in Austin by developing a community-wide program that bridges new and existing Latino, African-American and Asian leaders with nonprofit boards. The New Philanthropists program will help cultivate relationships with Latino, African-American & Asian communities and organized philanthropy and leadership by serving as a matching source for nonprofit boards based on leaders’ skills, talents and interests.
While this road will not be an easy one, we’re ready to have conversations, building relationships, take in feedback and connect more leaders of color to nonprofit boards. Will you join us? Send us a feedback and keep up with our progress on our social sites.