The other day, I was seeking information for an RFP for a client when I came across this startling article be The Chronicle of Philanthropy---Nonprofits Led by People of Color Win Less Grant Money With More Strings (Study). While I have known for a long time about the Capacity Paradox small nonprofits face, I was blown away by the findings in the study.
The study found a troubling reluctance and outright fear by Foundations to invest in true community solutions-organizations that are led by BIPOC folx to support BIPOC communities. Those BIPOC communities that so many funders say they want to serve are best served by BIPOC leaders who have lived experience.
When those funders ask for the breakdown of our leadership profiles and the long list of demographics of who we serve, are they comparing? When you look at the data is hard to not worry that when a Foundation sees a black woman at the helm of an organization they may not see that organization as a "good investment”
How do we in the nonprofit industry undo this? We do what we always do; we change the system.
We use storytelling and measurable goals to educate donors on how this work is done. We write bolder grants that don’t mince words about why BIPOC communities are the experts in their own solutions. We seek diverse leadership and boldly tell this to every funder—not just the ones that ask for it. We set bold goals of what leadership diversification looks like and we state those goals and the why and how of getting there. We state this in every grant even if we must shove it into the Organization History section. This statement is worth every character count it takes.
We help our fellow nonprofits out by sharing funding opportunities with organizations that are By and For the communities we serve. We offer to partner with these organizations, not ask them to partner with us. When we partner with them, we listen, and we follow. We support their work at the cost of securing yet another grant for a white-led organization.
We do this because if our mission as a nonprofit industry is to make our communities stronger, more equitable, and healthier anything less is mission drift.
Lace has 10 years of fundraising experience for large and small organizations. She has a depth of knowledge learned in the fundraising trenches, through good and bad trainings, from numerous mentors, and by creating all the excel sheets!