Sustainability, or the ability to maintain organizational health and impact over time, requires both a strong infrastructure and an investment in leadership development that includes an intentional effort to build a multi-cultural, multi-generational staff. “Nonprofits that are serious about their own sustainability will also be serious about planning for smooth and thoughtful transitions of leadership — as well as making sure their nonprofit is prepared for unexpected departures” (National Council of Nonprofits). Succession planning, or planning for the transition of an executive director, is a necessary risk management strategy that reflects a commitment to serving the community for the long term. In Recommendations & Strategies that Further Women of Color's Advancement, Arlene Vassell and Nkiru Nnawulezi highlight succession planning for all leadership, but especially white women, as key a way to provide more opportunities for women of color and to reduce the overrepresentation of white women in leadership roles in the gender-based violence movement. It’s important for organizations to engage in the development of thoughtful succession plans even when leadership changes are not expected, and to embrace such plans as an opportunity for transformative change.
The Building Movement Project (BMP) conducted the first Race to Lead survey in 2016. Over 4,300 respondents answered questions about their current nonprofit job, interest in leading a nonprofit, training/supports, and views on race and the nonprofit sector. BMP re-launched the Race to Lead survey in 2019 and collected over 5,000 responses from nonprofit professionals. In 2022, BMP surveyed the sector a third time.
The “Race to Lead” report series explores the results of these surveys and challenges the way the nonprofit sector has been approaching the racial leadership gap.