Data Collection is an Important Tool for Building a More Vibrant Nonprofit Sector

Arturo Vargas is the executive director of the NALEO Educational Fund, the leading nonprofit organization that facilitates full Latino participation in the American political process, from citizenship to public service. He is also the board chair of ZeroDivide (formerly the Community Technology Foundation) and chairs the Council on Foundations’ Committee on Inclusiveness. He is a member of the PRE advisory board.

Funders have widely agreed that the philanthropy field and its grantmaking are not sufficiently diverse and that more resources can and should be directed to diverse communities, including communities of color. In fact, many foundation leaders point to voluntary actions as the correct alternative to legislative mandates for diversity-related data collection.

We should support the laudable actions and initiatives organized philanthropy is taking to increase its diversity. However, one of the key challenges for such voluntary efforts is how to measure progress. Absent data collection, it will be impossible to demonstrate that the field has become more diverse over time; that grantmaking is reaching more diverse communities than before, and, most important, that such increase in diversity actually is contributing to greater effectiveness.

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