Part I: Listening Session for Philanthropists in Forsyth County, North Carolina 

On November 19th, 2021, a small group of BIPOC Executive Directors (BIPOC ED) met for a two-hour listening session (no recording available) with four specific philanthropic groups in Forsyth County: Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust,  Black Philanthropy Initiative of the Winston Salem Foundation, Forsyth County ARPA, and United Way. The outcome was to plan a second session for the philanthropic groups to share their perspectives of how to fund traditionally-marginalized organizations, and what parameters they face that make it challenging. It was agreed that the next BIPOC meeting, scheduled tentatively one month later, would help to shape what further topics of interest philanthropic groups might speak to. It was also decided that the philanthropic groups would co-create the meeting agenda and the facilitator would come from the BIPOC ED community. 

Note: BIPOC is an acronym that stands for Black Indigenous People of Color. 

 

PART II: Philanthropy Listening Session for BIPOC Executive Directors

During the second listening session, a larger group of philanthropists were invited, and responded to the following questions :

1) What are the legal parameters that make it difficult to fund BIPOC leaders/ small [budget] nonprofits?

2) What philanthropic rules have continued the exclusion of BIPOC organizations that you are working to undo?

3) What is your philanthropic organization’s mission and strategy?

4) What potential barriers might you face in funding traditionally-marginalized organizations?

5) Are you willing to think through alternate ways to bridge the gap between wanting to fund traditionally-marginalized organizations and actually doing so in 2022 and beyond? If so, what are those specifics?

6) Fiscal Sponsorship/Collaborations a.) What other ways can you offer that BIPOC organizations could “prove” they are able to manage and operate financing/funding if they continuously are being asked to funnel funds through other organizations (typically non-BIPOC led)? b.) Regardless of BIPOC or non-BIPOC organizational status, have you considered the implications and impacts of telling one nonprofit to have another nonprofit legitimize them (culture of competition being created, lack of trust, delaying of execution of programs, subject to different timelines and processes, etc.)? c.) Consider invoking this process primarily for grassroot individual ideas (i.e. connect to a nonprofit willing to support the work the individual is doing).

 

Background

The video recording is Part II of a listening series that aims to support and enhance efforts to make an inclusive economy. Many of the stakeholders in this particular conversation are speaking to the efforts in Forsyth County, particularly in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The impetus for this conversation started when a small group of BIPOC Executive Directors convened in May 2021 to discuss how to move forward in creating an equitable funding movement that is informed by trauma, pays attention to internalized biases, and works as a catalyst to increase direct funding for BIPOC organizations and explore how to eliminate any barriers to that goal.

The BIPOC leaders wanted to engage in a process that would create a movement that centers and funds the very organizations, populations, and communities that funders, philanthropists, and government agencies say that they want to help. At the end of 2021, it was determined that due to timing, funding education needed to happen in November 2021, instead of waiting until 2022. Thus, Part I was birthed, and Part II followed in 2022. 

The intended purpose of the outreach to philanthropists was to build momentum along with BIPOC Executive Directors to close the disparity gap between white-led organizations and BIPOC organizations. Philanthropists are currently problem-solving to address inequities in the current funding paradigm, however, white-led organizations are overwhelmingly being funded to provide capacity-building services to BIPOC organizations to help close the disparity gap, instead of funding directly to BIPOC organizations, or funneling funds through larger BIPOC organizations to serve BIPOC organizations. The best case scenario is for philanthropists to fund BIPOC organizations directly, which is said cannot be done for various reasons, thus, the capacity-building model is used. 

Many BIPOC-led organizations argue that funding white-led organizations to serve BIPOC EDs is creating an inequitable dynamic, partly due to the logistics of accessing the resources, which causes extreme harm, often because the power that is created between organizations mimics oppressive patterns experienced more widely. But, secondly, the argument from some BIPOC organizations is that the capacity building being offered is not relevant to the actual needs of BIPOC organizations, which are not lacking capacity in skills, but rather, in direct access to money and resources.  The argument continues that BIPOC EDs are being met with assumptions that they lack skills and need mentoring and more training in grant writing, budgets, and fundraising, in order to be trusted with funding. While everyone could use some skill building, white-led organizations are often not met with this same assumption in lack of skills or trust, but rather are being funded to outsource those needs, or granted funds in spite of their lack of skills, or don’t have to go through as many vetting processes. 

Meanwhile, BIPOC organizations are being asked (by the implications of the funding model) to learn and provide those skills in-house, and to spend their time not running programs, but learning how to do services for themselves that will eventually be outsourced once funding is achieved. This model adds an extreme burden to BIPOC leaders and their organizations as they are forced to attend “every session” in order to gain access to minimal funding, which again, is not asked, required, or even posed to their white-led peer organizations within the same funding models.

When skills can be outsourced, better use is made of BIPOC Executive Directors’ time and internal resources, adding true capacity to the BIPOC organization. This particular group of BIPOC EDs had requested an equity process be part of the white-led institution’s initial capacity building program, but the request was refused.  As a result, the White-led institution announced it would pause their programming, rename it, and provide more clarity about what it can and cannot provide to BIPOC organizations. Without the equity process and the program being paused, the BIPOC EDs chose to move in another direction to build resources internally and to hold philanthropists accountable to the harmful economic environment created through this funding model. The BIPOC organizations have continued to meet monthly since May 2021 through the present. We have established a mission/vision for the group; illustrated which social determinants were being met by the BIPOC organizations; and identified a series of topics to be addressed going forward:

  • grant writing
  • trauma-informed process of external factors oppressing BIPOC communities
  • awareness around internalized biases and oppressions that have BIPOC Executive Directors showing up in their own communities perpetuating white supremacy and trauma
  • renaming the group so that it is more reflective of all marginalized racial identities and reflects the funding disparity impact relative to the marginalized group (as all BIPOC communities are impacted differently and some more than others) 
  • rotating leadership styles so that peer learning can be promoted
  • education around providing cultural and evidenced-based programming
  • changing mindsets of poverty and scarcity to wealth building and abundance
  • other topics, such as sharing resources and insights

Next Steps 

The BIPOC leaders have offered to engage with philanthropists who are willing to go deeper into conversation around this situation and are asking for capacity funds to make that process possible. The capacity funds would compensate the BIPOC EDs who would attend these sessions as well as cover any administrative and food costs. 

The other topics discussed above and outlined  by the BIPOC Executive Directors will continue to be addressed on a monthly basis. If you would like to be part of these monthly listening sessions for BIPOC EDs, please email Joy@Hope2Thrive.com. We reserve this group for self-identifying BIPOC Executive Directors who lead BIPOC organizations or are the BIPOC Executive Director of a predominantly-white organization. Thank you. 

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