Giving Compass' Take:

• Vu Le explores why investment in BIPOC leaders is crucial and how philanthropy can improve the way it supports these leaders to address burnout in the sector and bolster future success. 

• How are you supporting BIPOC leaders with your charitable giving? How can you take some of Le's suggestions into account?

• Read more about the importance of funding leaders of color to build equity.

As a sector we have been delusional, believing that we have an endless supply of leaders of color, so we take them for granted. We underinvest in them. We leave them to struggle on their own. And by doing so, we progressives are throwing away our greatest and most productive years believing that institutions solve problems, when in fact, they often reinforce status quo. Here’s a study that shows how the nonprofit industrial complex holds social justice work hostage. Here’s an eye-opening article by Erica Kohl-Arenas and Megan Ming Francis on philanthropy’s long history of co-opting, redirecting, or neutralizing radical organizations and movements.

Clearly this is not working. In order for us to make significant change, we must invest in leaders, not simply see them as instruments to advance the work of organizations. Given the level of disruption and change that’s much needed and more possible than ever before, real progress will more likely come from unfettered leaders and the new platforms they create than from slow-to-change organizations that are hoping for a return to normalcy.

Here are a few key things foundations must do in order to better recruit, retain, and unlock the full potential of BIPOC leaders, who are more critical than ever as every progressive gain we ever made is quickly being undone. Many of these are lessons that we must learn from conservatives in how they invest in their leaders:

  • Understand that leaders and their organizations/movements are complementary but separate entities, and both must be supported.
  • Let BIPOC leaders lead, even if their work doesn’t align with your priorities or strategies.
  • Support BIPOC leaders while they are leading.
  • Protect BIPOC leaders when they are undergoing challenges.
  • Sustain BIPOC leaders when they are in transition.
  • Broaden your concept of leadership and invest in non-ED/CEO leaders.
  • Provide significant, multi-year, general operating funding to organizations and movements led by marginalized communities.

Read the full article about supporting BIPOC leaders by Vu Le at Nonprofit AF.