To close out Black Philanthropy Month, the Young, Black & Giving Back Institute today released a new report (https://bit.ly/GrassrootsBlackGiving) on grassroots, Black-led and Black-benefiting nonprofits. The report paints a compelling picture of their aspirations, challenges and fundraising experiences and outlines key recommendations for how philanthropy can better support these organizations to advance racial justice.
The release of the report, titled “Grassroots, Black & Giving: How Philanthropy Can Better Support Black-led and Black-benefiting Nonprofits,” comes one day after Give 8/28, an annual event initiated by the Young, Black & Giving Back Institute to promote financial giving for Black-led and Black-benefiting nonprofits. This year’s Give 8/28 took place with more than 350 nonprofits on August 28 at 8 am ET, with early giving starting on August 21 at 8 am ET.
“It is time for philanthropy to center and abundantly resource Black-led and Black-benefiting social change,” said Ebonie Johnson Cooper, founder and executive director of the Young, Black & Giving Back Institute. “Our research uniquely highlights the needs, experiences and attitudes of Black-led and benefiting nonprofits and the critical role they play in Black communities across the country. Philanthropy must address the funding gap for Black-led social change and recognize that a strong, localized Black-led nonprofit sector is essential to thriving Black communities.”
Supported by the Nielsen Foundation through its Data for Good grant program, the report is among the only research efforts to look nationally at Black-led and Black-benefiting organizations, particularly organizations with budgets under $500,000. The report’s findings reveal that these nonprofits are often grassroots, hyper-local, and founder-led, with deep connections to the communities they serve. However, they encounter difficulties in accessing diverse and sustainable funding, and getting capacity-building support in crucial areas like coaching, financial management, and fundraising.
Among the key findings:
- Black-led and benefiting nonprofits do a lot with a little, with 76.7 percent of the nonprofits surveyed operating on a budget of less than $500,000 a year; nearly one third operate with just $30,000 a year.
- These organizations manage largely with volunteers, with 43.5 percent operating without any paid, full-time employees, and 45.65 percent indicating that they didn’t have any paid, part-time employees.
- Almost three-fourths of organizations surveyed are led by their founders. Collectively, the majority of nonprofit leaders surveyed work full-time in their organizations (73.3 percent), while 26.7 percent work part-time. Leaders tend to not be new to social change, with most having been in the nonprofit sector for 11 years or more (52.9 percent).
- An overwhelming majority of survey respondents were women (79.6 percent) and most fall within the age categories of 35-44 (28.3 percent) and 45-54 (26.8 percent).
- Black-led and benefiting nonprofits primarily focus on addressing the direct needs of Black communities, spanning areas like poverty, health, education, and workforce development.
While the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity (PRE) estimates that funding for racial equity reached $3.4 billion, and financing for racial justice reached $1.07 billion following the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in 2020, no clear data exists on how much of the granted funds actually reached grassroots Black-led and Black-benefiting nonprofits. Existing research shows that these organizations receive significantly less funding than their white-led counterparts, limiting their capacity to serve their communities effectively. The report by Young, Black & Giving Back Institute sheds new light on the fundraising challenges Black-led and Black-benefiting nonprofits face as they carry out their mission. Among those findings:
- 86.5 percent report always or often have trouble accessing a large, diverse number of funding sources, and 72.7 percent always or often face the challenge of identifying or cultivating new funders.
- More than half (52.9 percent) always or often face the challenge that their organization would shut down if they lost one or two key funders.
- 71.9 percent agree or strongly agree that attracting support from non-Black donor funding is critical to their survival or growth.
- 85 percent agree or strongly agree that they are expected to accomplish much more with fewer resources by institutional funders and donors relative to white-led organizations.
- 60.8 percent believe funders never or rarely create funding opportunities that are specifically targeted to Black-led, Black-serving organizations.
- 69.9 percent believe funders never or rarely help other funders recognize the value of Black-led, Black-serving organizations and encourage them to fund these organizations.
Despite these challenges, Black-led and benefiting nonprofits continue to make a positive impact in their communities. Philanthropic institutions have an opportunity to fuel their work by centering their investment in Black-led and benefiting organizations, providing capacity-building support for them, and trusting their expertise in pursuing authentic social change strategies. The report calls on philanthropic institutions to:
- Create funding streams specifically targeted to Black-led nonprofits supporting Black communities.
- Prioritize capacity-building embedded in funding opportunities that include long-term, multi-year grants and supplemental supports that help nonprofits build or outsource infrastructure for financial management, fundraising, communications, and leadership coaching.
- Build authentic relationships with Black-led and benefiting organizations by understanding the history of Black-led social change efforts, and honoring how Black communities generate self-help and value formal and informal networks.
- Provide fundraising technical assistance that specifically targets individual donor cultivation, retention and diversification.
- Create regular and consistent feedback sessions with Black-led and benefiting nonprofits to understand their needs.
- Along with supporting direct service organizations, conduct analysis to address the systemic issues facing Black communities, such as poverty.
- Support the full scope of approaches needed – policy, direct services, organizing, leadership development – in order to build a robust ecosystem of support for Black communities.
The report surveyed more than 200 Black-led and Black-benefiting nonprofits across the country, and supplemented the data results with a focus group of Black nonprofit leaders along with one-on-one qualitative interviews. The report also highlights the historical legacy of Black communities organizing mutual aid societies dating back to the 1700s.
About Young, Black & Giving Back Institute:
The Young, Black & Giving Back Institute (YBGB) serves Black-led, Black-benefiting nonprofits and their leaders with a mission to provide capacity building, convenings, and funding that uniquely meets their social impact needs. For more information: www.youngblackgivingback.org