Foundations across the United States have increased funding for racial equity and social justice over the last few years, but more needs to be done to support the organizations at the forefront of this work. A 2021 report by the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity (PRE) found that, in 2018, the latest year for which complete grants data is available, just 6 percent of total philanthropic dollars supported racial equity work and only 1 percent supported racial justice initiatives. Similarly, in research by Echoing Green and the Bridgespan Group, an analysis of approximately 1,000 early-stage organizations found Black-led entities reporting 24 percent less in revenues and 76 percent less in unrestricted net assets than their white-led counterparts. There is a growing awareness of disparities like these; in fact, the PRE report noted a five-fold increase in the number of funders investing in racial equity and racial justice in the U.S. over the past 10 years. But even with increased support, the level of investment remains low as a percentage of overall philanthropic dollars and has not translated into commensurate resources for Black, Indigenous, and people of color-led (BIPOC) organizations. So how, as a philanthropic community, do we address this critical gap?

To truly advance equity in philanthropy, foundations must continue to increase financial investment, and the sector must also do more through new partnerships, approaches and grantmaking innovations to create opportunities that can deepen philanthropic impact. This will support BIPOC-led organizations in driving meaningful work anchored in social change.

The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) and the William Penn Foundation (WPF) recently embarked on an innovative partnership with Justice Outside to advance racial justice and equity in environmental conservation and, more broadly, to rethink how our foundations can better support BIPOC-led initiatives. This partnership, which brings together a national foundation, a Philadelphia-focused foundation, and a Black woman-led environmental and racial justice organization, has the potential to help us realize individual and shared aims—which include the foundations’ desire to diversify environmental funding portfolios and advance environmental program goals; Justice Outside’s desire to scale meaningful outreach and impact in a new geographic area; and the desire of BIPOC-led organizations to have more opportunities to access philanthropic funding.

Through this collaboration, each player is contributing to advancing the collective whole.

Read the full article about supporting BIPOC-led climate efforts by Kim Moore Bailey, Danielle Levoit, and Michele Perch at PhilanTopic.