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5 ways to be an ally to Black-led nonprofits

Dionn Schaffner
Chief diversity officer
February 01, 2024

As we usher in Black History Month, it's important to reflect not only on the remarkable achievements and contributions of Black individuals, but also on the ways they shape our society through philanthropy and social good. 

Black Americans have long been at the forefront of charitable giving and community service, often focusing on areas that directly impact their communities, like health disparities, educational inequities, economic development, and the arts. These efforts are crucial in building resilient, empowered communities. 

While their achievements in the social good space are incredible, Black-led organizations often face disproportionate challenges compared to white-led organizations. Let’s run through a handful of examples: 

  • Lack of funding and resources: Black-led nonprofits often have more difficulty securing funding. This can limit operational capacity, scope of work, and ability to grow or sustain initiatives. 
  • Racial bias in philanthropy: Racial bias in the philanthropic sector can lead to unequal distribution of grants and resources. This bias, whether conscious or unconscious, often means Black-led organizations receive smaller grants or are held to higher standards of accountability. 
  • Limited access to networks: Fewer Black leaders means those leaders have less access to powerful networks that can offer critical support, mentorship, and opportunities. Networking gaps can be a barrier to gaining visibility and recognition in the broader philanthropic and social good community. 
  • Increased operational strain: With fewer resources, Black-led organizations have smaller staff sizes, which means workers wear multiple hats, leading to increased workload and operational strain. This impacts the organization’s efficiency and the well-being of its staff. 
  • Representation and voice: Ensuring that the voices of Black-led organizations are heard and represented in larger discussions about social good and philanthropy is a constant challenge. These organizations often must work harder to gain a seat at the table in policy discussions and sector-wide strategies. 

So what can you do as an ally to help Black-led organizations in the social good space? Here are five ways you can help alleviate immediate difficulties and contribute to a more equitable environment in the long run: 

1. Educate yourself and others

Continuously educate yourself and others about the challenges Black-led organizations face. Understanding these issues is key to being an effective ally. 

2. Donate or give pro bono services

Donate to Black-led organizations with your time, talent, or treasure. Consistent financial contributions can help mitigate funding disparities and provide these organizations with more stability and capacity to expand their impact. And giving specialized services can help reduce operational strain and extend their resources. 

3. Expand networking opportunities and create collaborative opportunities 

Utilize your sphere of influence to facilitate introductions and connections between Black leaders and influential networks. Access to broader networks can open doors to new partnerships, funding opportunities, mentorship, and increased visibility for Black-led organizations.  

4. Promote and amplify voices 

Use your platforms to amplify the work and voices of Black-led organizations. Sharing their stories, successes, and challenges can increase their visibility and support. 

5. Engage in advocacy work

Support policy changes that remove barriers for Black-led organizations. This can include advocating for fair and equitable funding practices, government funding, policy reforms, initiatives that address systemic barriers impacting these organizations, challenging biases in grant-making processes, and encouraging major funders to support Black-led initiatives. 

By taking these actions and supporting Black-led organizations beyond momentary movements or trends, you can play a crucial role in helping to overcome systemic challenges and advancing equity and inclusion in the social good sector. 

Together, let's use our social good superpowers to continue to support Black-led organizations, foster diverse leadership, and ensure that the voices and contributions of the Black community are amplified all year round. 

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Written by

Dionn Schaffner
Chief diversity officer
    Grants Management
  • Philanthropists
  • Foundations & grantmakers
  • Nonprofits
  • Public agencies
  • Capacity building
  • Coordinating social services
  • Grant management & grant making