New report sheds light on age gap, lack of diversity in US philanthropic sector


Sarah Sabatke and Charles Keidan


An in-depth report published by the Council on Foundations, the US association of philanthropic organizations, highlights ongoing discrepancies across age and background within grantmaking organizations.

The 2016 Full Grantmaker Salary and Benefits Report, published this month, collected data on the salaries of 9,945 ‘full-time paid professional and administrative staff members,’ based on virtual survey responses from 1,010 grantmakers. The key findings of the report cite trend lines dating back to 2012, while the Council on Foundations has created an annual Grantmaker Salary and Benefits report for over 30 years.

The study found that racial and ethnic minorities only accounted for about 10 percent of CEOs within the sector. For comparison, African Americans and Latinos make up approximately 27 percent of the US population combined. African Americans were the largest racial minority in the US as of 2016, making up around 13 percent of the population. Americans of Hispanic and Latino backgrounds accounted for the most represented ethnic minority in the country in 2016 at around 17 percent.

The report also showed that women ‘represented over three-quarters of reported grantmaker staff and over half of CEOs in 2016.’ However, the proportion of women in leadership roles drops among foundation with larger staff and assets where women represented less than half of the CEOs.

The report also analysed a growing age gap among leadership within the sector, finding that more than a third of full-time staff within grantmaking organizations were between 50 and 64 years old and six percent of these full-time staff members were ‘at or above retirement age.’

Council on Foundations President and CEO Vikki Spruill says the lack of diversity within the sector is causing a larger issue related to the sustainability of the philanthropy workforce. She says grantmakers must be able to recruit and retain leaders for the field in order for it to survive.

‘This means focusing on recruiting and retaining more racial and ethnic minorities and women in leadership positions as well as on attracting and developing a new pipeline of philanthropic leaders,’ said Spruill.

‘Our long-term viability as a sector is now directly linked to the field’s ability to attract, develop and retain a new generation of philanthropic professionals,’ said Spruill.

The September issue of Alliance further explores issues of diversity and representation within foundations.

Tagged in: Council on Foundations

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