A recent philanthropic report from the Nonprofit Finance Fund pointed to the “deep disparities… in the level of giving and other forms of support for white-led nonprofits versus those led by Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color.” Additionally, research from Echoing Green and Bridgespan found that “revenues of the Black-led organizations are 45 percent smaller than those of the white-led organizations, and the unrestricted net assets of the Black-led organizations are 91 percent smaller than the white-led organizations—despite focusing on the same work.” At the same time, leaders are seeing that “philanthropy is overlooking leaders of color who have the most lived experience with and understanding of the problems [the sector is] trying to solve.”
In talking with our members over the last two years, we consistently heard two themes related to these inequities: First, our nonprofit members are largely white-led and white-founded organizations. This meant that organizations led by people identifying as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color across the state were lacking access to the funding resources, opportunities, and connections Maine Philanthropy Center provides. Second, our funder members spoke about their desire to find and fund organizations led by people who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, but that they knowingly have limited networks and relationships with the communities leading these organizations. Our members also helped us recognize that there are currently no tools available in Maine that collect or distribute the full spectrum of demographic data for nonprofit and funding organizations.
Taking into consideration all of these factors, MPC is proud to be launching an initiative that will both seek out and welcome self-identified Black-, Indigenous-, and People of Color-led organizations into our membership at no cost and introduce a system to gather demographic data for all of our members as a tool to drive equity in our sector.
Starting now, you will see new features on our website. First, all membership forms now include optional questions about demographic data (race, disability, immigrant, refugee, and LGBTQ+ representation) of the leadership and founder(s) of the organization, as well as the communities that are primarily served through the organization. If an organization’s answers include one or more of the listed historically marginalized groups, they will appear on the member’s profile in our public Member Directory. Anyone using the Member Directory will also be able to filter by these fields to identify organizations that identify this way. Primary and administrative contacts can also update these fields at any time by going to My Account then Edit Organization.
While this initiative was created because we know organizations led by people who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color are most historically underfunded and under-supported, we also have chosen to include disability, immigrant, refugee, and LGBTQ+ data because those organizations are also impacted by the same issues. We also hope the filter tool can help us use an intersectional approach to understanding Maine organizations. Please note that MPC is not placing an inherent judgment or value on organizations based on their answers in these fields.
With all new offerings, we at MPC know that we are learning and may make mistakes. Your input is crucial to our work and we welcome feedback as an opportunity to continually improve our offerings to the community. Please send us feedback about this initiative at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about organizations in our community
We encourage you to explore organizations that are doing work to support Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and immigrant and refugee communities by utilizing great publicly available tools:
- Maine Immigrant Right Coalition’s Ecosystem: An excellent resource to learn about organizations that are supporting immigrants and refugees in Maine.
- Black Owned Maine: An outstanding tool to explore Black owned organizations and businesses in Maine.
Initiative for Black-, Indigenous-, and People of Color-Led Organizations
In an effort to challenge the deep disparities between white-led and BIPOC-led nonprofits (Nonprofit Finance Fund) and as part of our commitment to equity, MPC is offering a year of free membership for organizations who identify as Black-, Indigenous-, and People of Color-led. If organizations continue their membership after a year, the cost will be a pay-what-you-can model. This membership offer will be automatically applied at check-out for those who fill out the Demographic Data and Equity section of the Nonprofit or Consultant Membership Form with the eligible requirements. For questions about this initiative, please reach out to us at email@example.com.
How do we define the leadership of an organization?
The leadership team can be defined as those serving in decision-making roles. Some examples of leadership and/or governing body might include: Board of Directors, Advisory Board, senior staff, executive directors, etc.
In the context of our demographic collection, we ask that organizations select options that describe the identities that the majority, or over 50%, of the leadership team hold.
We recognize that not all organizations are hierarchal in nature, so who is making decisions might look different from one organization to the next. Organizations themselves should determine who are their core decision makers.
Why categorize the founders of an organization?
We would like users of our Member Directory to be able to search by as many relevant and useful categories as possible. We believe that understanding who founded an organization (even as it perhaps overlaps with leadership and communities served) is an important part of an organization’s story.
In the context of our demographic collection, we ask that organizations select options that describe the identities of one or more of its founding members.
What do we mean by communities that an organization primarily/explicitly serves and why is it important to measure?
In the context of our demographic collection, we ask that organizations select options that fulfill one or more of these areas:
- The organization’s mission explicitly names this community as a target population for their work
- The majority of the organization’s work serves this community
- The organization has created program(s) specifically for this community
While organizations can serve a wide array of communities through its services, we feel it is important to use this initiative to identify organizations who are specifically serving historically marginalized communities. Our hope is to make it easier for funders, nonprofits, and others in our network to find organizations who are impacting the communities that they are interested in supporting.
Does inclusion in our demographic data rate or evaluate the quality of an organization’s work?
No. The intention of this initiative is not to provide value judgement on organizations’ commitment to or progress towards diversity, equity, or inclusion. Instead, it is an opportunity to learn and engage more with organizations who are directly associated with historically marginalized communities.