‘Philanthropy has consistently under-funded Indigenous communities and, particularly, Indigenous-led organizations,’ said Edgar Villanueva, chair of Native Americans in Philanthropy’s board and author of Decolonizing Wealth. Over the last 30 years, the proportion of grantmaking by large U.S. foundations for Native American communities and causes has only marginally increased—from less than 0.2 per cent to 0.4 per cent, even though Native Americans make up two per cent of the population.

Conversations are also taking place about how inequities are perpetuated throughout philanthropy. There have been calls for greater honesty about the origins of philanthropic wealth and momentum for philanthropy to cede decision-making power to grantees and return agency to communities. There has also been wider recognition of the effects of historical trauma caused by colonization and centuries of systematic oppression and the resulting social, psychological, economic, and spiritual impacts for generations of Indigenous peoples.

Last year, we launched Investing in Native Communities, a free, publicly available website that focuses on philanthropic funding to Native American communities in the United States. In an effort to shine a spotlight on communities that often fall outside mainstream funding, this interactive site includes a funding map, news stories, social media feed, the latest research on funding related to Indigenous peoples, and a historic timeline of the U.S. written from an Indigenous perspective.

In the report accompanying the website, we present significant philanthropic investments that show how foundations are partnering with Indigenous-led organisations. We also share reflections from allies and funders about how philanthropy can be more effective partners with Indigenous communities. Recommendations include:

  • meeting people where they are, literally;
  • adapting and evolving organisational systems and practices;
  • providing long-term general operating support to Indigenous-led organisations;
  • supporting Indigenous-led solutions;
  • partnering with Indigenous-led regranting institutions; and
  • grounding the work in your mission.

Read the full article about how to give more equitably in indigenous communities by Grace Sato, Sarina Dayal, and Supriya Kumar at Alliance Magazine.