PAALF: For African American-led nonprofits, a board without white representation may suggest limited access to funding or influence. To that end, African American-led nonprofits seek to recruit white board members to increase opportunities for access.

In this study, we define an organization as African American-led if the current Executive Director (or CEO or President) self-identifies as African American/Black on the survey.

As was noted in focus groups with African American Executive Directors, a nonprofit organization may be currently headed by an African American Executive Director, but the race/ethnicity of the head of the organization often changes over time with turnover in the position. Most African American-led organizations (as we define it) thus differ from traditionally black organizations such as the Urban League and the NAACP, where an African American Executive Director is presumed.

Other studies use different definitions. As noted in the “Benchmarking Diversity” report, some nonprofit organizations defined themselves as “minority-led” if at least half of their board members or staffs were people of color. The race/ethnicity of an organization’s clients could also be used as a way to categorize organizations.