A few years ago, I called up a colleague to ask for his advice on fundraising. He is a well-respected leader in the field, and I needed some guidance on getting significant resources for my organization’s mission of developing leaders of color for the sector.

“Well,” he said, “as a white guy who has done this for a while, my advice for you is to be more like a white guy.” “You have to have more confidence, get more assertive,” he continued, “White dudes, because of our privilege, never doubt ourselves. We just walk into any room as if we belong there. You don’t have the same privilege, but it might on occasion be helpful to act like you do.”

These words have haunted me for years. The reality is that we have an ingrained system where those with the loudest voices and the best access to influential relationships win 90% of the resources. It explains why so many of my colleagues from communities of color, communities of disabilities, and other marginalized populations do incredible work yet continue to struggle for funding.  It explains why across decades, total philanthropic dollars going to communities-of-color-led organizations hover below 10%.

Yes, we must push for systems change. Foundations, must get out of this mentality that whoever have the best relationships with them and are the loudest are the ones most deserving of funding. And larger, mainstream organizations, despite the good work they often do, must understand their influence and the shadows they exert on the entire nonprofit ecosystem.

But, we leaders and organizations from marginalized communities need to reexamine our own actions. We don’t want to have to change our nature—the things that make us effective at our work—in order to be seen and to get funding for our work.

Read the full article about funding for marginalized communities at Nonprofit AF.