Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

I’ve written about the organizational and collaborative culture of the Suburbs Alliance, so I’ll focus on the wonderful people who make up the org and compare it to nonprofits nationally. The Suburbs Alliance is a ten-person team, including the four fellows. Of the ten, there are eight women and two men. We often talk about the gender disparity in nonprofit work and whether our organization is a reflection of this broader trend. According to the facts from The White House Project,  I’d say we are.

  • Women make up 45 percent of the CEOs at nonprofits but only 21 percent of the CEOs at nonprofits with budgets of $25 million or more.
  • Though the vast majority of workers in the nonprofit sector (73 percent) are women, men still hold a majority of top leadership positions and receive significantly higher incomes.

I guess even if you look at DCBRP participants, there are only four males in our program…

While gender disparity is an important point to make, I’d like to also add that a vital part of the culture of the Suburbs Alliance is engaging in deep conversations. For example, yesterday during lunch, we discussed the idea of a world without race, the historical weight of derogatory words, and what it means to reclaim a derogatory word. Being a part of an organization that challenges each other’s views openly and thoughtfully sparks meaningful discussion that further contributes to the collaborative culture of the Suburbs Alliance.

Now, back to the people in the organization. As far as the racial breakdown of the Suburb Alliance goes, I believe that we are a majority white organization. For the sake of comparing the Suburbs Alliance to national trends, apparently 62% of nonprofit full-time staff are white, 18% are black, 11% are Hispanic, 4% Asian, 3% other, 1% Native Hawaiian, 1% American Indian or Alaskan Native. What this means in a broader context, I’m not quite sure; however, I do think it is interesting to think about why this is the case and perhaps, what the value is in having a nonprofit reflect the demographics of the people it is serving.

Unique to the Suburbs Alliance is that we are typically a younger organization, ranging from ages 18 to 40ish? (A solid guess).  On the national level, the greatest diversity and inclusion challenge that organizations reported was retaining staff under the age of 30 (38%, up from 30% last year)

As a young person myself, I question why this is? As DCBRP participants, I encourage you to think about what attracted you to nonprofits and if the field is something you would be willing to dedicate the rest of your life to. Why or why not? And how could we shape the nonprofit sector to be more appealing to younger generations? Furthermore, I encourage you to think about your organization and how it compares to other nonprofit organizations. The second greatest challenge nonprofits report is having their staff reflect the composition of the communities they serve (32%, down from 35% last year), and balancing ethnic and cultural diversity (26%, down from 30% last year). How does your organization compare?


Facts derived from following websites:


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