The controversy surrounding NCRP’s latest report, Black Funding Denied, has been intense. Many of the 25 community foundations in our sample set have said that the data detailing grantmaking explicitly designated to Black communities does not adequately capture their overall racial equity efforts. Some have even gone so far as calling for NCRP to retract the report. Yet, movement groups, including Black-led NCRP nonprofit members, tell us that the research reflects their lived experience.

As our country engages in the deepest national reckoning with anti-Black racism and violence since the Civil Rights Movement, we felt it was a moral imperative to shine a light on this disconnect.

NCRP was founded to bring the voices of nonprofits – especially those by and for marginalized communities – into the philanthropic sector. Most nonprofits are reluctant to be publicly critical of foundations because of the power difference inherent in their status as potential future (or current) grantees. Funders too often hesitate to criticize their peers, in part due to a pervasive “politeness” culture that can inhibit and insulate the sector from productive discomfort necessary for growth.

As one of the few philanthropy-serving organizations with both foundation supporters and nonprofit members, NCRP serves as a bridge between these two sets of changemakers. Our value to the sector lies in our willingness to play the role of critical friend, provoking difficult conversations like this one. We have an obligation to our philanthropic colleagues to be collaborative, but also an obligation to hold a mirror up that reflects the reality of our movement partners. It is a tough balancing act.

We have learned a lot from this controversy and want to share our reflections. The nuanced and sometimes painful discussions catalyzed by this research have crystalized two consensus points among critics and proponents alike, notably that:

  1. Community foundations can and must do more to support Black lives and liberation.
  2. Funders have a shared responsibility for and self-interest in the creation of a better system for transparent, accurate and timely sector-wide data.

We believe these areas of agreement represent fertile ground for ways we can move forward together.

Read the full article about funding Black lives  by Aaron Dorfman and Dr. Starsky Wilson at the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy.