Data lagging on philanthropic funding for racial equity

A protester in New York City holding a sign that says "If it's not systems change I don't want it."
A protester in New York City holding a sign that says "If it's not systems change I don't want it."
Steve Sanchez Photos / Shutterstock
Some activists fear that philanthropic support won't be directed to groups pushing to change systems that fuel racial disparities.

Data lagging on philanthropic funding for racial equity

A new report shows that most racial equity donations can't be tracked to recipients yet.
July 16, 2021

While funders have made historic commitments to support racial equity initiatives in the last year, the vast majority of donors have yet to report data showing where that funding is going, according to a new report from PolicyLink and the Bridgespan Group. 

While data from Candid found that about $11.9 billion in philanthropic dollars has been set aside for racial equity in 2020, the report found that only about $1.5 billion in donations can be linked to recipients. 

The lack of information makes it difficult to assess whether foundations, corporations and individual donors have given out the funds and what types of organizations are receiving support. Tracking this data is also complicated by the fact that the definition of racial equity giving is variable. “For instance, was the apparent surge in 2020 truly due to an increase in giving to racial equity or an increase in labelling already existing giving patterns as racial equity grants?” the report asks. 

The report’s authors outlined concerns from various funders, activists and other leaders involved in racial equity work about recent philanthropic funding. Concerns remain that the money allocated isn’t sufficiently supporting groups led by people of color and work to change systems that fuel racial disparities such as policy advocacy. Others shared fears that the funding boost driven by the COVID-19 pandemic and nationwide protests about police brutality and systemic racism is temporary and that philanthropic support will wane in the future.

NYN Media reporter Kay Dervesh
Kay Dervishi
is a staff reporter at NYN Media.
20210922