In light of the national uprising sparked by the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor (and building on other recent tragic movement moments going back to the 2014 murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri), NCRP is analyzing grantmaking by community foundations across the country to find out exactly how much they are – or are not – investing in Black communities.

We started by looking at the latest available grantmaking data (2016-2018) of 25 community foundations (CFs) – from Los Angeles to New Orleans to New York City to St. Paul. These foundations represent a cross section of some of the country’s largest community foundations as well as foundations in communities where NCRP has Black-led nonprofit allies.

What did we find?

Altogether, only 1% of grantmaking from the 25 foundations that we looked at was specifically designated to benefit Black communities, even though a combined 15% of these 25 cities’ populations are Black. Put another way, these 25 foundations together distributed $78 in funding per person in their communities, but only $6 per Black person in their communities.

If community foundations invested in Black communities on a per capita basis like they invested in the general population, Black communities in these cities alone would have been the beneficiaries of $200 billion more in grantmaking since 2016.

Community foundations are not like other grantmakers. They receive a public subsidy above and beyond that available to private foundations (e.g. the Ford Foundation) by nature of their commitment to raising funds from the public instead of just one person or family. And in order to raise funds for community use, they rely on their reputation as a foundation focused on a whole community instead of a specific cause or issue area.

Choosing to direct 99% of their grantmaking away from Black communities undermines the community foundation brand.

Yet, while it is important to remember the good work that many community foundations are attempting to do in the current moment, it is equally important to put these commitments alongside the overall spending numbers of these organizations — both current and traditional. Consider this: Even if community foundation giving for Black communities had tripled since 2018 — which would represent a seismic shift in grantmaking priorities — it still would not even amount to 4% of all giving in these cities.

The bottom line is that community foundations have neglected their charge to serve their full communities. Regardless of why, we must be immediately address how Black Americans have been excluded from community foundation grantmaking writ large.

Read the full article about foundation funding to Black communities by Ben Barge, Brandi Collins-Calhoun, Elbert Garcia, Jeanné Lewis, Janay Richmond, Ryan Schlegel, Spencer Ozer, Stephanie Peng at the National Committee For Responsive Philanthropy.