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An Invisible Impediment to Progress: Perceptions of Racialization in the Nonprofit Sector

Journal Title Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly
Published Date May 17, 2024
Research Type
Authors Greg Wilson


Popular beliefs about the nonprofit sector suggest it as a place devoted to the public good on behalf of disadvantaged individuals and groups. This dominant view implies an organization’s success or failure as the result of individual decision-making, capacity issues, or inability to behave like successful organizations. This fuels a view of the sector as race-neutral where all organizations encounter the same challenges and in the same ways. In this article, I use interview data from a 2-year qualitative study of Black-led organizations in Madison, Wisconsin to examine how Black-led organizations perceive racialization in the sector and its impact on their work. Findings suggest that Black-led organizations perceive racialization in the sector across key areas understood as central to an organization’s operation: leadership, funding, data, collaboration, and volunteering. I conclude by calling for a more robust theory of racialization in the nonprofit sector that might vary by place.