National Nonprofit Survey Seeks Input from Memphians

By Sean Thomas-Breitfeld, Co-Director of the Building Movement Project

When the Building Movement Project (BMP) launched our first survey on nonprofits, race and leadership in 2016, we were trying to understand why there weren’t more leaders of color in the nonprofit sector, even though organizations had been talking about the importance of diversity for years. But we also knew that a national survey could only reflect local realities to a limited extent. So three years later, as we survey nonprofit workers again, we’re paying special attention to what staff report about the nonprofit sector in places like Memphis.

At a national level, the vast majority (80%) of respondents to our 2016 survey agreed that one of the sector’s “big problems” is that the leadership of nonprofit organizations doesn’t reflect the nation’s diversity. But through this year’s research effort, we hope to understand more about how nonprofit staff in key places think about race and leadership within their organizations and across the sector.

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As a mid-sized, Southern city where the majority of residents are people of color – and the plurality of residents are Black – we were very interested in the conversation sparked by workshops that BMP and Momentum Nonprofit Partners held in June. During these sessions, BMP shared some of the findings from the 2016 survey and then asked people how local political, economic and social realities affect nonprofit organizations in Memphis. From the racial wealth gap to the role of foundations, people had a lot to say about how local forces can consolidate power and influence in the hands of a few – mostly white – leaders in the nonprofit sector.

The 2019 Race to Lead Survey will be live thru the end of August, so we’re asking all staff working for nonprofit organizations in Memphis to take 20 minutes to visit and share your experience and views. Then in the fall, we will do focus groups with nonprofit staff in Memphis and other cities – some where the majority of residents are people of color and others where people of color constitute the minority of a city’s population – to examine how local contexts differ in terms of the opportunity for people of color to lead nonprofit organizations.

We are so grateful for the continued support and partnership of Momentum Nonprofit Partners and welcome the support of other nonprofit leaders in the Memphis area in helping to spread the word about the 2019 Race to Lead Survey throughout the month of August. Anyone working for a nonprofit organization in the United States, and U.S. territories can complete the survey, so please share the survey link – – wide and far!

Momentum Nonprofit Partners Announces Statewide Partnership to Provide More Learning Opportunities for Nonprofit Professionals and Organizations

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Over the last two years, Momentum has been cultivating relationships with our  peer organizations in other Tennessee cities to offer more opportunities to our members. And we’re excited to share news of our first statewide partnership initiative:

Effective immediately, members of Momentum Nonprofit Partners can enjoy the benefits of member rates at three Tennessee nonprofit resource organizations: Alliance for Better Nonprofits (Knoxville), Center for Nonprofit Management (Nashville) and Venture Forward (Chattanooga). Members now receive discounted access to conferences,
e-learning materials, and training opportunities such as single-day offerings; multi-day sessions; as well as, online learning communities across the state
. The partnership expands access to skills development for nonprofit professionals while building capacity for nonprofit organizations.

What does this mean for member organizations? 
Staff now has four times the amount of professional development opportunities available at a reduced cost – without the organization having to incur multiple membership fees. Our statewide partners offer a variety of workshops and special engagement opportunities very different from what we provide to our members in Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee. For instance, staff members can attend the Alliance for Better Nonprofits conference in Knoxville for ¼ the price; participate in Center for Nonprofit Management’s webinars; as well as, take advantage of Venture Forward’s Hub of Social Innovation in Chattanooga or their annual conference featuring renowned author and humanitarian Dan Pallotta. 

How to redeem this benefit?
You must have an updated profile with Momentum Nonprofit Partners – independent of a LiveGivemidsouth profile. Be sure you update your information with us: (P.S. Momentum Nonprofit Partners is the only organization in Tennessee with free membership.)

Members of the partnering organizations can visit to find complete details and learn how to redeem the standard member rate for membership partner learning opportunities.

We look forward to sharing our opportunities with our peer professionals and organizations! If you have any questions, please connect with Kate Moss.

Momentum Nonprofit Partners Institutes Job Board Policy Changes

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Many nonprofit professionals in the sector work with some of Memphis’ most economically deprived residents, and we see the struggles that they face every single day. Yet I often hear about the financial struggles of the nonprofit sector’s employees. Some work below a living wage; many lack benefits; and, most are not competitively compensated in comparison to our for-profit counterparts. Admittedly, there are systems that perpetuate a scarcity mindset in the nonprofit sector, but we can do better to ensure that nonprofit employees in Memphis are compensated appropriately for working diligently to combat the struggles faced by Memphians that seek support. 

The staff and board at Momentum Nonprofit Partners acknowledges that we cannot be complicit in perpetuating a mindset that often leads to low wages for employees.  The research is clear: better salaries for employees equals more impact for your nonprofit. Our work is urgently important, as we are saving lives, building better communities, and providing vital services and support for all Memphians. However, we should not be marytrs for our cause by compromising our ability to provide beyond the basic needs for ourselves and families. We all deserve to be compensated fairly.

In doing our part to move this conversation towards serious action, Momentum Nonprofit Partners will institute important policy changes to our job board. As you may be aware, our job board yields the highest traffic of any nonprofit-specific job board in the region, and our members can post their openings at no cost. Effective July 1, 2019, Momentum Nonprofit Partners no longer accepts job openings for any position paying less than the equivalent of $15 per hour or $31,200 per year. With this decision, we encourage you to thoughtfully consider your pay scale so that nonprofit employees in Memphis can do more than make ends meet while also trying to help others in our community.  Additionally, job postings will require hourly wage and salary information, as research has shown that the exclusion of salary information disproportionately impacts women and people of color.

Momentum Nonprofit Partners is one of the first organizations of its kind in the United States to implement these necessary policy changes. We hope that these changes will not only prompt dialogue within your organizations, with your boards, staff, and executive leadership but also initiate a paradigm shift in the nonprofit sector. 

We appreciate and welcome feedback from the nonprofit community. Thoughts can be shared with Momentum’s CEO, Kevin Dean via email or comment below.