Philanthropic Paths: An Exploratory Study of the Career Pathways of Professionals of Color in Philanthropy

Publication date: 
June, 2014

This report by Forward Change explores deeper understanding of how professionals of color in philanthropy enter foundations and advance across their careers, and what factors affect their advancement within the sector. Among the study’s most striking findings:

  • There was significant upward mobility within the sector among those interviewed for the report, with many professionals climbing the ladder from program officer to senior leadership. This finding was contrary to conventional wisdom which asserts that the path to the C-Suite most often comes from outside of the philanthropic sector.
  • Affinity groups—both issue-based and identity-based—are considered by professionals of color to be an important source of networking opportunities, mentoring, and social support.
  • An institutional commitment to diversity and inclusion on the part of staff and board leadership is an important contributor to advancement for professionals of color. Recognition of the importance of diversity and its value, most often outside the context of a formal diversity program, appears to be a key factor in the hiring of diverse professionals.