Fundraising to Liberation
Disparities in fundraising are unrelenting for Black-led organizations and can be compounded by inequitable access and interpersonal bias to name a few barriers. “Historically, Black-led organizations have not been funded or had access to major or private funders at the same rate as white-led organizations,” says Maya Simpkins, Senior Development Strategist with Community Change Action. “And since Black-led organizations have not been historically funded well or appropriately, there is a lack of trust in their efforts and capabilities. They have to prove their effectiveness, capacity, and capability in ways that conform to funders’, often traditional, way of defining success or impact.”
A recent analysis by The Bridgespan Group and Echoing Green showed that the unrestricted net assets of Black-led organizations are 76 percent smaller than their white-led counterparts. The study also found that donations to Black-led nonprofits with no strings attached are 91 percent smaller than those to white-led organizations. “We live in a racist society and resources, grants, and other gifts to Black-led organizations are not exempt from that [racism],” shares Seft Hunter, Director of Black-Led Organizing for Community Change Action. “The very nature of philanthropy is one that is not very diverse. The people who are on the board have a different set of lived experiences than the folks applying. So there’s a real disconnect between the decision-makers in philanthropy and everybody else.” Awareness of this fundamental and structural understanding is key to helping Black nonprofit leaders engage donors and take back their power to create resources for their communities.
Steps To Impactful Fundraising
Black non-profit leaders can use the tips below to embrace fundraising that moves their organization toward liberation.
Know The Barriers. The previously mentioned study by The Bridgespan Group and Echoing Green listed four main barriers to Black-led organizations obtaining capital:
- Getting Connected
- Building Rapport
- Securing Support
- Sustaining Relationships
Speak Up. “People need to know your organization exists and that you’re achieving your mission, so talk and write about the work as much as possible,” says Maya. Because relationships with funders can be tenuous or difficult to build, Black-led organizations need to explain their work to philanthropists and donors whenever possible.
Ask the Right Questions. Take advantage of learning spaces for Black-led organizations to ask questions and grow your understanding of how to obtain funding. “We are not sufficiently ambitious in what we are asking,” shares Seft.
Realign Your Focus. Invest in training to help team members cultivate relationships through social media to raise donations. Leaders should also align their organizing and fundraising strategy with a focus on the community they serve as an avenue to future funding.
The Black Freedom Collective has more details about how to build a sustainable funding stream to grow your Black-led organization here. There is also regular training and support available to Black Freedom Collective organizations that can be accessed below.