Capacity Building Needs Survey of Nonprofits Led by People of Color in Kent County

Blog post by Juan Olivarez, Trish Abalo, Aaron Yore-VanOosterhou
June 21, 2023

Community Data & Research Lab at the Johnson Center   (Grand Rapids)

For nonprofits led by people of color, traditional capacity building has been inaccessible and often does not meet their needs — part of a larger pattern of racial disparities and failure to support communities of color within the nonprofit sector.

These disparities have been attributed to a variety of factors, including exclusion from social networks and historically constrained access to resources which can result in limited capacity growth (individually and organizationally). However, when paired with systemic changes and a racial justice analysis, capacity building can support the success of nonprofits led by people of color. This has implications for closing the nonprofit racial leadership gap and rebalancing the inequitable allocation of resources.

From April to May 2021, the Johnson Center conducted a survey to identify the capacity-building supports needed by nonprofit organizations led by people of color in Kent County, Michigan. The survey’s aim was to gain information directly from those working in the field to understand their current needs and aspirations related to building both their own capacity and their organization’s capacity as a whole.

The key findings presented in this report will inform the design and provision of opportunities for capacity builders to meet the identified capacity-building needs of these nonprofit leaders and support the success of these individuals and organizations.