The need to increase funding for Black feminist organizations is urgent, according to an open letter released Thursday from some of philanthropy’s most influential organizations including Melinda Gates’ Pivotal Ventures, Rihanna’s Clara Lionel Foundation, as well as the Ford Foundation and MacArthur Foundation.
“It’s time to fund Black feminist movements like we want them to win,” supporters of the nonprofit Black Feminist Fund write in the letter to other philanthropists. “Because across our most urgent global challenges – from Colombia to Sudan, Brazil and Nigeria, to the U.S. and France – Black feminists are dreaming and delivering the solutions we need.”
The Black Feminist Fund is looking to raise $100 million to support nonprofits led by Black women, who have been historically underfunded in philanthropy. The fund, which launched in 2021, has raised $35 million of its goal so far.
According to a report from the Ms. Foundation for Women and the consulting group Strength in Numbers, less than 1% of the $67 billion that foundations contributed in 2017 went to organizations that specifically support minority women and girls. The Black Feminist Fund’s research says that dropped to less than 0.5% in 2018. Black women and girls made up nearly 7% of the U.S. population, according to 2022 U.S. Census figures.
Tynesha McHarris, co-founder and co-executive director of Black Feminist Fund, said the fact that Black women and girls do not get a share of donations equal to their share of the American population is a sign of larger problems.
“There’s a trust gap between some in philanthropy and the leadership of Black women and Black gender expansive folks,” McHarris told The Associated Press. “There isn’t that trust that means ‘I trust your leadership. I trust you to be able to take the resources and do what needs to get done. I trust that you will use these resources with deep integrity.’”
The open letter released Thursday is a way to address that, McHarris said, calling it a “demonstration of their solidarity to our movement.”
Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation and one of the signers of the open letter, said there is a need to provide more funding to those who are currently struggling.
“As mission-aligned funders, we have a responsibility to work with our colleagues across philanthropy to ensure we’re addressing this disparity in resources to ultimately close the vast funding gaps for those building a world of equality for all of us,” Walker said in a statement.
Also signing the open letter were representatives from the Solidaire Network, Foundation for a Just Society, Libra Foundation, The Meadow Fund, Farbman Family Foundation, Satterberg Foundation, and Wellspring Philanthropic Fund.
McHarris says the Black Feminist Fund is eager to achieve this initial $100 million funding goal quickly so it can pass on the funding in eight-year grants to nonprofits working on some of the most pressing global issues like climate change, systemic violence and hunger, as well as working to end racial and gender inequity.
“Black feminist leaders on the front lines of movements today are splitting their time between figuring out how to end violence and figuring out how to write reports,” she said. “Imagine a world where they get to spend 100% of their time to figure out how to build the world we deserve and need. That’s what we’re trying to do.”