Who’s At The Table? Probably Who You’d Guess

(This is a guest post from Sara Melillo,
Program officer, McCormick Tribune Foundation, who is covering the Council on Foundations Conference for Tactical Philanthropy)

By Sara Melillo

This morning’s breakfast plenary kicked off with an interesting polling exercise to find out who exactly was attending the conference (or at least who woke up in time for breakfast). Using Turning Point wireless polling, each of us clicked through a few questions about who we are.

Turns out, the conference attendees are overwhelmingly white, female, middle-aged and U.S.-based. Not a huge surprise, based upon long-known statistics in the sector that show an aging workforce.

The full breakdown, as reported in real time, was:
Female 64%
Male 36%

20-34 17%
35-44 23%
45-54 29%
55-64 24%
65+ 7%

African-American 11%
Caucasian 74%
Asian 4%
Hispanic/Latino 5%
Native American 1%

This data demonstrates what we already know: Foundation staff and board members don’t reflect the demographics of the U.S. No doubt we will discuss this issue at various points throughout the conference, but at what point will these conversations turn into action? The nation is diversifying at a stunning rate and boomers are nearing retirement, making the issue even more pressing. What do you think are some barriers or strategies preventing us from reflecting the people we serve?

By way of disclosure, I fall squarely in that 20-34 year-old age bracket above, so I’ll be reporting back throughout the conference on my vested interest in finding out how young philanthropists can advance their career and step up and be leaders within the sector.