This study used a mixed-methods approach to examine differences between African American-led (“AA-led”) and white-led nonprofits in Philadelphia. We collected data through a survey of a sample of nonprofit leaders and through qualitative research with nonprofit Executive Directors and local funders.

Demographics

145 Executive Directors or CEOs/Presidents (referred to as “EDs” for the remainder of the report) of Philadelphia nonprofit organizations completed the survey. Of these respondents, 74 are African American (51%), 63 are White (43%), and 8 are another race/ethnicity (6%)
(Figure 1).

Survey

The sample of nonprofit organizations surveyed for this study was drawn through two methods: a stratified random sample of human serviced-related 501c3 organizations selected from a comprehensive list of all nonprofits in Philadelphia, and through broad outreach made by PAALF members with organizations in their networks. In total, 166 surveys were completed for a response rate of approximately 49 percent.26

The survey was intended to be completed by the Executive Director or CEO/President of the sampled nonprofit organization.27 The survey was administered online via SurveyMonkey from November 2014 – March 2015.28 The survey consisted of 60 questions on a variety of topics including: organizational background (size, age, etc.), background of the Executive Director and senior staff (demographic characteristics, experience), background of board members, services provided by organization, clients served, technology and data, funding, organizational capacity, and challenges. Respondents were provided an incentive ($10 gift card) after completing the survey.

 

Qualitative Data Collection

In order to supplement the survey data with more in-depth information, we conducted two focus groups with African American Executive Directors and four one-on-one interviews with funders. We facilitated two focus groups with 13 African American Executive Directors (who had completed the survey) in March 2015. Executive Directors were selected to represent a range of experience, type of organization, and gender. We conducted interviews in April and May 2015 with four local philanthropic executives (all women; two women of color) from organizations with a local/regional grant-making focus and/or knowledge. Questions in both the focus groups and interviews focused on the role and value of AA-led organizations in Philadelphia, organizational capacity, funding, technology, and technical assistance.

Research Findings

145 Executive Directors or CEOs/Presidents (referred to as “EDs” for the remainder of the report) of Philadelphia nonprofit organizations completed the survey.29 Of these respondents, 74 are African American (51%), 63 are White (43%), and 8 are another race/ethnicity (6%) (Figure 1). We compared survey findings between African American and White EDs to uncover similarities and differences in their experiences and organizations.30 The following sections report survey findings, noting any of these differences, as well as related themes from the focus groups and interviews.

26 More details on the sampling methodology are provided in the Appendix.
27 If a respondent reported a position other than the Executive Director or CEO/President at the organization, they were disqualified from the survey.
28 Nineteen surveys, however, were completed on a paper version.
29 Twenty-one completed surveys that were not from 501c3 organizations were removed prior to analysis. The final sample size was 145.
30 Due to the small sample size, we could not compare survey findings of EDs of other races/ethnicities. It would be very interesting to examine nonprofits led by Latinos or Asians, but would require a different sampling strategy and more completed surveys by Latino and Asian EDs.
For results presented in this report, when differences between African American and white EDs are not statistically significant, we report results for all respondents in the text. However, figures show results for AA-led and white-led organizations.