When donors endow nonprofits with a pool of money that pays out 5 percent annually over many years, they set those organizations up for long-term success. Unfortunately, social change organizations that are grappling with knotty nation-spanning challenges get just a humble slice of the total endowments’ pie. As for Black-led social change organizations, they get crumbs. The result is that philanthropy too often forfeits their true potential, not least because the Black leaders who helm these organizations often come from the communities they serve and know best how to work shoulder to shoulder with constituents.
Why are donors reluctant to endow Black-led social change organizations? In their “Viewpoint” essay for Stanford Social Innovation Review, Bridgespan’s William Foster and Darren Isom identify three areas of common concern: a belief that most nonprofits lack the wherewithal to take on a large gift; that donors themselves can manage the money better; and that nonprofits should work themselves out of business. The authors then make the case for why endowing Black-led nonprofits—and thereby increasing the odds that they will accomplish far more—should outweigh donors’ legitimate (but ultimately misplaced) apprehensions.