Philanthropy: BIPOC Leadership Linked with Greater Racial Justice Funding

Data chartAugust is the tenth anniversary of Black Philanthropy Month. This month we're looking at racial equity and justice in both the composition of funders and their funding priorities.

Earlier this year, Schott launched #JusticeIsTheFoundation in partnership with Candid. This project looks at how funders in the K-12 education philanthropy sector invest their resources. Among our findings, we discovered that within this sector, less than one penny of every dollar spent was directed to racial justice work. This number is unacceptably low.

As we dug further into the data, we discovered something: the organizations that spent the most on racial justice funding had leadership much more racially diverse than philanthropy at large.

Data chartAccording to the Council on Foundation's 2020 survey, only 10.3 percent of CEO or equivalent roles were filled by people of color. When we examined the top 50 funders in our Candid data, we found that number was three times higher: 30 percent of CEO or equivalent roles were filled by people of color.

Susan Taylor Batten, president and CEO of ABFE and a Schott Foundation board member, pointed out in the Council on Foundation report that "we need to focus on our people, but we also need to focus on our work. When our staffs and our communities see real alignment between the values we espouse and the work we do, then I think it will be that much easier to build organizations where equity is front and center."

This suggests that there is significant overlap among funders that prioritize racial justice in staff practices and those that prioritize it in grantmaking. While we're working with a small data set, this finding reinforces the intuitive notion that the internal and external aspects of organizational life tend to mirror and reinforce each other. For foundations with white leadership looking to move into racial justice funding, this is a reminder that outward reinvention should be paired with inward transformation.

To learn more about #JusticeIsTheFoundation, view this webinar below:

Top photo by David Geitgey Sierralupe.