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Racism and Nonprofit Boards

Racism on nonprofit boards refers to discrimination and exclusion of marginalized communities, including people of color, on the boards of nonprofit organizations. This can take many forms, including lack of diversity in board composition, and a lack of attention to issues affecting marginalized communities. Research has shown that racism on nonprofit boards can have a negative impact on the communities they serve, as well as on the effectiveness and performance of the organization.

One study by the nonprofit BoardSource (2016) found that people of color are underrepresented on nonprofit boards, with only 20% of board members being people of color, despite the fact that people of color make up 40% of the U.S. population. This lack of diversity on nonprofit boards can lead to a lack of representation for marginalized communities, and can result in decisions and policies that do not take into account the needs and perspectives of these communities.

Additionally, a study conducted by the National Center for Nonprofit Boards (2017) found that organizations with more diverse boards tend to have more effective and efficient decision-making processes, as well as a better understanding and connection to the communities they serve .

It is important for nonprofit organizations to actively work to address racism and promote diversity on their boards. This can include implementing recruitment and retention strategies that are designed to increase the diversity of the board, as well as creating a culture of inclusivity and engagement within the organization.


Vora, Erika, and Jay A. Vora. 2002. “Undoing Racism in America: Help From a Black Church.” Journal of Black Studies 32(4):389–404. doi: 10.1177/002193470203200402.

BoardSource. (2016). Leading with Intent: 2016 National Index of Nonprofit Board Practices. Retrieved from

National Center for Nonprofit Boards. (2017). The Business Case for Board Diversity. Retrieved from