Women of color comprised 20.3% of the United States population in 2021, an increase from 18.4% in 2010, yet nonprofits that support their needs lack the necessary financial resources. According to the Ms. Foundation for Women’s report, Pocket Change: How Women and Girls of Color Do More with Less, as of 2017, the median foundation grant awarded to “organizations by and for women and girls of color” was $15,000. Further, in 2012, of the $4.8 billion philanthropic investments allocated to the U.S. South, just 5.4% went to programs focused on women and girls and less than 1% to programs focused on Black women and girls. To create impactful change, innovative approaches are needed—including bolstering nonprofits led by and serving women and girls facing inequities with general operating support grants.

In 2020, the Black Women’s Mental Health Institute was a volunteer-led nonprofit in Birmingham, Alabama. Like 20% of the Southern Black Girls and Women’s Consortium’s (Southern Black Girls) grantee partners, the group had not received foundation funding before. The general operating support grant they received allowed founder and CEO Dr. Nadia Richardson to build the organizational capacity needed to meet increasing requests for mental health support. Today, the group offers more than 200 hours of free counseling to Black women and girls.

This is just one example of what happens when philanthropy invests in BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) leaders with general operating support that helps address long-term unmet needs. For philanthropists looking to invest in locally led authentic solutions that deliver results and measurable change, general operating support grants are that pathway forward.

The importance of capacity building for small BIPOC-led or Black women-led (BIPOC CEO, executive director, or president and majority BIPOC board) BIPOC-serving nonprofits cannot be overstated. These organizations are on the front lines, addressing the multifaceted needs of their communities with limited resources and often facing systemic barriers to sustainable growth. Imagine the transformative impact of philanthropy prioritizing investment in the capacity of BIPOC-led organizations through general operating support grants—providing the flexible funding necessary not only to strengthen organizational infrastructure but also to foster innovation and drive meaningful impact.

Read the full article about investing in capacity-building by LaTosha Brown and Malikah Berry Rogers at Candid.