PAALF: African American nonprofit leaders in Philadelphia are challenged to be resourceful to keep agencies alive while grantmakers are rewarding innovation.

In 2013, the Philadelphia African American Leadership Forum (PAALF), with funding from the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, commissioned a study of African American-led nonprofits in Philadelphia. This research was overseen by Kelly Woodland who was serving in the capacity of managing director for the PAALF. PAALF was interested in understanding whether the experiences and needs of African American-led nonprofits in Philadelphia differed in important ways from white-led nonprofits.

In 2014-2015, Branch Associates, Inc., a Philadelphia-based research and evaluation firm, conducted a survey of leaders of human service-oriented nonprofit organizations in Philadelphia. The survey research was supplemented with qualitative research with African American Executive Directors and local funders. The findings from this research are presented in this report.11

  • What are the organizational characteristics of African American-led organizations such as size, budget, age, sector, funding sources, services provided, populations served, etc.?
  • What are the characteristics of the Boards of Directors and their members, such as number of members, demographic characteristics of members, tenure and experience of members, etc.?
  • What are the characteristics of the Executive Directors and senior staff, such as race, gender, age, tenure, and experience?
  • How do the organizations use data and technology?
  • Are the organizations involved in policy work or advocacy? Do they have the capacity to work in these areas?
  • Do the organizations and their staff participate in trainings and technical assistance?
  • Have the organizations participated in strategic planning, including succession planning and financial sustainability?
  • Are the organizations involved in partnerships or collaborations with other organizations?
  • How do African American-led nonprofit organizations compare to other (non-African American-led) organizations on the above measures?
  • What are local funders’ perspectives on African American-led nonprofit organizations in Philadelphia and how they are positioned in the nonprofit sector?

11 Interspersed with research findings are comments by PAALF.