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Tracking Diversity: The Green 2.0 Guide to Best Practices in Demographic Data Collection


This guide is designed to support the demographic data collection efforts of foundations and nonprofit organizations and fill the gap in the field of demographic data collection in the environmental sector. It provides insights into the importance of demographic data collection, whether for staff, board members, or grantees. It also offers support for developing and implementing a demographic data survey.


We hope that this guide will provide clarity and support for your demographic data collection needs, while also inspiring you to push your efforts further.


If an organization is to improve its demographic data collection processes, an understanding of current best practices is essential. Therefore, Green 2.0 surveyed a sample of 21 environmental non governmental organizations (NGOs) and foundations in May and June of 2021 to get a snapshot of current practices in the field regarding the purpose, timing, and mechanics of demographic data collection.


The variables most often included in demographic data collection were race, ethnicity, and gender. Reasons mentioned for collection of these variables included commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) work, accountability, and representation of the regions and populations served. Meanwhile, while challenges for collecting these data included not wanting to burden people and needing support to collect data.


Other variable options included disability/ability status, LGBTQ+ identity, geographic location, socioeconomic status, and primary language, in addition to age and veteran status.


Below are a few examples of the old or “typical” way of asking and improved, more inclusive ways of asking about primary language, gender identity, and ability and disability status. More examples can be found in the guide.

Tracking Diversity will help organizations with their strategic planning, assessing the growth of their staff and board, and analyzing the metrics of their demographic data. By promoting transparency and accountability in the sector, we work to create a path forward for the sector to become more just, inclusive, and culturally relevant.