A joint PolicyLink-Bridgespan Group study to analyze the state of funding for racial equity work found that while 2020 saw an overall surge in philanthropic intention to fund racial equity, 94 percent of donors have not yet reported their data for the year, making actual giving hard to pinpoint.

Michael McAfee, president and CEO of PolicyLink said, “We undertook this work to elevate the capital needs required to win on equity and attract significant investment to equity movement leaders, especially those on the front lines. Understanding how funds are aggregated and deployed is a critical piece of that effort.”

Willa Seldon, Bridgespan partner and co-author of the report, agreed, saying, “For philanthropy to hold itself accountable to making progress towards an equitable nation, we need funders to share how much of their funding is going to racial equity work—including how much is going to structural or systems change efforts, to organizations led by people of color, and in multi-year general support.”

According to data provided by Candid, roughly $11.9 billion in philanthropic capital was pledged for racial equity in 2020—more than the racial equity funding that Candid has tracked for the past nine years combined. However, based on currently reported grant data Candid has collected, only $1.5 billion in funding for racial equity in 2020 can be tracked to recipients.

Additionally, the study points to three key equity funding concerns that would exist even if all the money pledged were to be deployed:

  • The money may not be going to the full range of work that is needed to support transformative change. There needs to be an intentional focus to ensure that funding is directed with the long game in mind, toward initiatives that address the root causes of inequity, not just the immediate problem at hand.
  • The money is insufficient to address the historic undercapitalization of organizations doing racial equity work, which are largely led by people of color and focused on systems change.
  • The money will disappear: Concerns run high that 2020 was an anomaly, with interest in racial equity energized by a perfect storm generated by the murder of George Floyd and others and a global pandemic—a combination that hopefully will not be replicated.

Read the full article about funding racial equity at The Bridgespan Group.