Giving Compass’ Take:
• This report by Native Americans in Philanthropy (NAP) and Candid provides insight into philanthropic funding trends for Native American communities and explains how funding can be more effective.
• The report offers a number of ways to become involved in the community. How can you increase your involvement with Native American philanthropy?
• Read more about busting philanthropy’s myths about Native Americans.
At the founding meeting of Native Americans in Philanthropy 30 years ago, William Brescia presented findings from the first-ever analysis of philanthropic funding for Native communities and causes. At that time less than 0.2 percent of foundation giving was directed to Native causes.1 Since then, the proportion of grantmaking for Native American communities and causes has only marginally increased.
In recent years, however, the cultural context has been changing. Indeed, historical trauma is now more widely recognized: colonization, genocide, and centuries of systematic oppression have created social, psychological, physical, economic, and spiritual impacts for generations of Native Americans. And some traumatic events, such as Indigenous land dispossession for oil extraction, continue to this day. It is not enough to address the symptoms of oppression. Philanthropy must understand their root causes and acknowledge the ways in which it has benefited from and contributed to these events.
The data shows that:
- From 2002 to 2016, large U.S. foundations gave, on average, 0.4 percent of total annual funding to Native American communities and causes.
- Funding for Native communities and causes significantly dropped following the recession. Although grant dollars increased slowly afterwards, giving in 2015 and 2016, adjusted for inflation, was at roughly the same level as in 2006.
- Twenty percent of large foundations give to Native communities and causes. Even among this specific group, most give only one or two grants.
- The majority of grant dollars are for program support (56 percent); only 15 percent goes to general operating support.
In “Learnings from the eld,” we share reflections from allies and funders about how philanthropy can be more effective partners with Native communities. Recommendations include:
- Meeting people where they are, literally.
- Adapting and evolving organizational systems and practices.
- Providing long-term general operating support to Native-led organizations.
- Supporting Native-led solutions.
- Partnering with Native-led re-granting institutions.
- Grounding the work in your mission.
For funders that are interested in taking the next step but are not sure where
to start, we suggest four commitments to strengthen partnerships with Native organizations and communities:
- Learn about Native peoples and their history.
- Evaluate your organization’s practices.
- Build relationships with Native communities and nonprofits and with peer funders that have relationships in Indian Country.
- Begin funding.
Twenty percent of large foundations give to Native communities
and causes. But even among this specific group, most give only one or two grants.