Focus Group Quotes:

Focus group participants and funders also discussed the importance of seeing African Americans in leadership roles. Some felt this “role modeling” was particularly important for youth. Focus group and interview participants agreed in the value of AA-led organizations, as demonstrated by this funder’s comments:

“I want to say it doesn’t matter, on one hand….what you need is a good leader, a good thinker, and a good director of any color. But the highest goal would be to have not just a good leader. [T]here is a higher value to having black-led organizations.”


Diversifying staff (and leadership) was also identified as a challenge, particularly among white EDs. African American EDs, however, in the focus groups also noted challenges in recruiting/finding staff and believe the pipeline could be improved through increased awareness of nonprofit careers among college graduates. In response to a question about how race/ethnicity was a barrier to organizational growth, white EDs noted on the survey that the people they serve are diverse, but staff are not, as these remarks demonstrate:

“Our constituency is more diverse than our leadership and I think our constituency would be better served by more diverse leadership (staff and board) who can shape appropriate program and be more aware of issues/challenges faced by that constituency.”.

(White ED/survey respondent)

“… We do not have enough Latinos or African Americans on staff to have the insight into the daily lived experience of students to adequately develop our program appropriately. Not having diversity is like not having 20/20 vision.”.

(White ED/survey respondent)

While focus group participants and interviewees universally value diverse staff and leaders, they also noted that competence was more important. They wanted the best person for the job:

“Who has the core competencies to carry out what we need to carry out whether they be a black male, or a white male, or a black female, or a white female? Who can get the job done right away?”

(African American ED/focus group participant)

Some also noted that cultural competence can and should be taught to all staff, regardless of their background, as a way to provide better services and programs. One funder noted:

“It’s critically important that people are educated, sensitized in all ways, trained – whatever word you want to use – that their awareness is ‘up’…”.


Focus group participants (all African American EDs) reiterated the importance of collecting and using data, and the need to demonstrate program outcomes in order to compete for funding. One ED noted how they used data at their organization:

“We changed our teaching and structure of our programs several times based on [pre- and post-program] evaluations.”

(African American ED/focus group participant)

Another reported:

“… especially being an African American – if you don’t have certain information, it’s hard to compete in what we have to do. We have to able to speak the language.”

(African American ED/focus group participant)

A funder concurred:

“The more that organizations are armed with appropriate findings and outcomes and research, the better off they’ll be.”


About 79 percent of organizations report receiving some technical assistance (TA) in the last five years. Organizations most often reported receiving technical assistance in:

  • Strategic planning (48%)
  • Website and social media development (48%)
  • Fundraising/development (39%)

AA-led organizations were more likely to have received TA in board development than white-led organizations (36% versus 23%, respectively); white-led organizations were more likely to have received TA in strategic planning than AA-led organizations (57% versus 40%, respectively). While not statistically significant, AA-led organizations were more likely than white-led organizations to not have received any TA in the last five years. Twenty-six percent of AA-led organizations did not receive any TA versus 16 percent of white-led organizations.

Almost three-quarters of organizations (72%) partner with other organizations to provide services often or all of the time.