Giving Compass' Take:

• Kennedy Odede, a Black community organizer, calls for radical candor and transparency from philanthropy to better support and empower leaders of color in the sector. 

• How are you bolstering leaders of color in philanthropy? Why does philanthropy continue to limit access to funding? How can donors band together to eliminate racial funding disparities?

Read more about the disparities in funding for nonprofit leaders of color. 

I was in Kibera , Africa’s largest slum, when I heard about the shooting of another black man, Jacob Blake , by US police. Close by is a mural of George Floyd , painted on a wall near where I grew up, a reminder that the current upheaval surrounding race in the US has global repercussions.

In Africa, white-led institutions have shaped the development and social entrepreneurship landscape, deciding who succeeds and who fails. Only recently has there been a growing recognition of these imperialist dynamics, which uplift foreign-led practitioners more than local ones. There is a growing consensus that the future should and must be created and led by Africans, because real progress requires it to be on our own terms. And yet, this is just talk until funders shift resources and power, at scale, towards local solutions.

In my 10-year journey as co-founder of Shofco, working in Kenya’s urban slums, I have experienced the racial barriers that many Africans face. When speaking at Davos or Oxford, I’ve been told to “stop telling the same stump story,” which happens to be the story of my life. I’ve even encountered funders who suggest I step aside so my co-founder, who is white and American, can become CEO. They failed to see that lived experience and community ties are defining aspects of competence in places like Kibera. They cannot be imported.

All too often, black founders find themselves jumping through more hoops to earn funders’ trust and – if we’re lucky – sustained funding. According to research by Echoing Green and Bridgespan: “The unrestricted net assets of black-led organisations are 76% smaller than their white-led counterparts. The stark disparity is particularly startling, as such funding often represents a proxy for trust.” It seems black leaders are not “pedigreed” enough, not networked enough, to show up on funders’ radars. Even when we do fit the “profile” with advanced degrees or accolades, we’re held under a magnifying glass and scrutinised in ways that white counterparts are not. And when we do succeed, our funding is often restricted or smaller.

Read the full article about closing the race gap in philanthropy by Kennedy Odede at The Guardian.