Confronting the Lack of Diversity in Nonprofit Leadership



In this conversation on race, Simma The Inclusionist talks with Kristen Sharpe, CEO of Non-profit Makeover, and Deedee De La Cruz, Director of Demand Generation for GiveSmart.

Why is there a lack of diversity in leadership roles within nonprofit organizations? Our two guests shed light on the reason that less than 20% of executive positions are held by people of color nonprofits.

Kristen Sharpe and Deedee De La Cruz, acknowledge the historical overrepresentation of white individuals in nonprofit leadership positions. There is an urgent need for greater diversity in these roles, particularly considering that many nonprofits serve people of color and low-income communities. The lack of diversity in leadership can lead to a lack of representation, support, and mentorship for CEOs of color. The episode raises the question of how nonprofits can prioritize diversity within leadership roles and suggests that providing people of color with a seat at the table, opportunities to serve, and a platform for their voices and ideas can help address this issue.

Both Kristen and Deedee share their personal journeys as women of color and how they achieved their high level of success in the non-profit world when neither of them came from business backgrounds. They also share how race and their economic backgrounds influenced the decisions they made to reach their goals.

Both women tell stories of how they dealt with “Imposter Syndrome,” and offer solutions for other women, specifically women of color who may be experiencing the same.

They emphasize the importance of adopting a mindset that recognizes an abundance of wealth and opportunity. Kristen Sharpe challenges the prevailing belief in the nonprofit world that resources are scarce and insufficient to support multiple causes and organizations. Using the analogy of restaurants, she highlights the existence of numerous different establishments in every community, catering to different interests and preferences. Similarly, she argues that individuals can support multiple causes and organizations, just as they can donate to both the St. Jude’s Foundation and organizations that support children in foster care.

Kristen and Deedee both aim to empower nonprofit leaders of color to raise money on autopilot using technology and social media. By sharing opportunities and fostering conversations within the community, they both believe that everyone can contribute to philanthropic efforts and collectively make a difference. She challenges the notion that access to resources and opportunities is limited, emphasizing that there is ample room for collaboration and support across various causes and organizations.

Deedee and Kristen both discuss the importance of leveraging technology, specifically GiveSmart, to bridge the gap and revolutionize nonprofit operations. She emphasizes that nonprofits unfamiliar with technology may be missing out on valuable opportunities. By partnering with GiveSmart, nonprofits can learn how to effectively utilize technology and maximize its potential.

Kristen utilized technology, including GiveSmart, to raise over a quarter million dollars during the pandemic. She emphasizes that this achievement was accomplished without traditional methods such as ads, events, mailers, or galas. This success demonstrates the power of technology in enabling nonprofits to raise funds on autopilot.


Time Stamps

[00:02:27] Why talking about race is important.
[00:04:24] Nonprofit leadership diversity.
[00:09:32] Lack of diversity in nonprofits.
[00:13:29] Generational self-confidence.
[00:16:34] Community building and peer-to-peer fundraising.
[00:21:30] Personal background and scholarship impact.
[00:24:48] Community Brands and Givemart.
[00:30:13] Nonprofit and technology partnership.
[00:32:39] Bridging the gap in philanthropy.
[00:36:19] Nonprofit diversity in leadership.
[00:40:01] Lack of diversity in philanthropy.
[00:44:11] Education as a privilege.
[00:49:32] Non-traditional routes to success.
[00:54:46] What’s on your playlist?
[00:57:54] Overcoming imposter syndrome.
[01:00:20] Donate button and tax deductible donation.


Guest Bio

Kristen Faith Sharpe is a powerhouse entrepreneur, an American Red Cross humanitarian Award Winner, philanthropist, and renowned domestic violence expert. For more than a decade, millions have been inspired by her strength, resilience, and groundbreaking initiatives to create social change online. This California native is the founder and visionary of multiple reputable brands and nonprofits that include Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence, The Nonprofit Makeover, and Boss Babe Networking.



Deedee De La Cruz is the Senior Manager of Demand Generation at GiveSmart, the leading provider of cloud-based software to donor-driven organizations like nonprofits, charities, schools and foundations. Instagram: @givesmart_us




Host Bio

Simma Lieberman, The Inclusionist helps leaders create inclusive cultures. She is a consultant, speaker and facilitator and the host of the podcast, “Everyday Conversations on Race for Everyday People.” 


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Simma is a member of and inspired by the global organization IAC (Inclusion Allies Coalition) 


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Previous Episodes

“From Apartheid to Forgiveness” a Conversation on Race

Race, Sentencing, and the Criminal Justice System: A Shocking Inside Perspective A Conversation on Race with Sean Wilson, Organizing Director of Dream.Org

Everyday Conversation on Race with Rosalyn Taylor O’Neale (DEI OG for 47 years)

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