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5 ways to empower and celebrate women in nonprofits

October 02, 2021
Several nonprofit professionals stand together applauding, demonstrating an attitude of gratitude at their nonprofit.

Women are a driving force in the nonprofit sector. They come from different backgrounds, fight for different causes and issues, and span the country. They are nonprofit founders, CEOs, fundraisers, and communication professionals. 

However, despite their critical role in this space, women still face barriers to full participation. That's why it's important for nonprofit organizations to take intentional steps to celebrate and empower women in their work. In this guide, we’ll explore the current state of women in nonprofits and provide some practical strategies for encouraging their continued involvement.

Important stats about women in nonprofits

Women make up an impressive 75% of the nonprofit workforce in the United States. The visibility of female employees in the nonprofit scene can make it easy to believe that nonprofits have achieved gender parity across the sector. However, this perception is skewed, as a recent study found:

  • Only 22% of large nonprofit CEOs are women.
  • Women make up just 10% of nonprofit chief executives, 16% of board members, and 10% of board chairs. For women of color, the representation is even lower. 
  • Of the 50 highest-paid executives at American charities and foundations, only 4 are women.
  • Female CEOs at organizations with an annual budget of less than $1 million experience median pay gaps of between 6% and 13% relative to their male counterparts. 
  • At larger nonprofits, where men outnumber women, the gap is larger: female CEOs face a median 18% pay gap.

So, what is it that attracts women to the nonprofit industry, full of long hours, hard work, and traditionally low pay? For many of the women we spoke to, it all came back to one thing—a commitment to make a positive difference in this world.

The importance of celebrating women in nonprofits

It's crucial to recognize the invaluable contributions women have made and continue to make in the nonprofit sector. As evidenced in the research above, women face systemic barriers to career advancement and leadership roles, despite their expertise and skills. By celebrating women in nonprofits, we can highlight the impact of their work, promote gender equality, and motivate future generations of women to pursue leadership roles in the space. 

Plus, celebrating women in nonprofits promotes a more diverse and inclusive sector, as nonprofits that prioritize gender equity are more likely to value and uplift individuals from other marginalized communities. 

How to celebrate women in nonprofits: 5 tips

Despite the incredible strides women have made in the nonprofit sector, it’s clear that there is still work to be done. Whether you’re a leader, donor, volunteer, or board member, you have an important role in supporting and empowering women in nonprofits.

Here’s what you can do as an ally:

  • Support and donate to women-led organizations or charities that empower women and promote gender equality.
  • Volunteer with a nonprofit that focuses on issues affecting women, such as reproductive health or education.
  • Recognize and amplify the voices and contributions of women within your own nonprofit community.
  • Host events centered around women's issues and achievements to provide a platform for education and discussion.
  • Offer mentorship programs or opportunities for women within your nonprofit to network, learn, and grow in their careers.
  • Research biases and prejudice in the nonprofit sector and advocate for change, such as closing the gender pay gap. 

By taking these steps to uplift and celebrate women in nonprofits, you can create an inclusive space for all. 

The bottom line: Celebrate women in your own nonprofit

Now it’s time to celebrate the women who make your work and impact possible. Start by measuring gender parity in your own organization and diversifying your board, leadership team, and staff accordingly. Then, consider how you can support women’s involvement, through equal pay, career advancement opportunities, and active listening. 

By promoting gender equity and empowering women in your leadership, you will not only benefit from their diverse perspectives but also create a more equitable and just world.

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