The nation is still convulsing over the recent police killings of Black individuals, nationwide protests, and the racial inequities of COVID-19’s public health and economic impacts over these past months. The philanthropic community continues to reach out to The Bridgespan Group for perspectives and recommendations on how its giving can sustain the fight against anti-Black racism in the United States.
As a social impact advisor whose vision is societies characterized by equity and justice, Bridgespan strongly advocates for increased investments in racial justice and in Black leaders. We hope the current surge of contributions is sustained over the long years of systems and culture change work ahead, and commit ourselves to supporting such investment through our advisory work.
The circumstances creating this moment are the manifestation of deeply entrenched systemic racism and oppression of Black people (as well as Latinx, Indigenous, and Asian and Pacific Islander peoples) in the United States. The social sector similarly has demonstrated long patterns of inequitable resource distribution. As the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity (PRE) notes, over the past 15 years annual foundation grantmaking focused on reaching people of color in the United States has ranged between 9-12 percent of domestic giving. Bridgespan’s recent research in collaboration with Echoing Green found that investment in Black social entrepreneurs is substantially lower than in white-led social enterprises.
At Bridgespan, we sit at the intersection of the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors, and are proud of our role in advising leaders both funding and driving social change. Over our 20 years of advising and research, we have developed perspectives on funding practices that lead to more equitable giving, such as paying what it takes, closing the racial equity funding gap, and centering social mobility. We have an obligation—and an opportunity—to influence philanthropic investments, and welcome the chance to be in conversation with any funders or field leaders whom we can support to unlock substantial new sums in pursuit of racial justice.
And yet, while we are heartened by the recent inquiries for our advisory, we recognize that there are many leaders in philanthropy and in Black-led social change who have been advancing this work for decades. Often in partnership with racial justice movement leaders, they've pushed philanthropy to tackle structural racism and contributed to mainstreaming discussions on—and commitments to—racial justice, including our own. We are honored to co-author this memo with ABFE, to recognize leading organizations such as the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity, and commit to amplifying existing deep expertise as we grow our work on this topic.
Jeffrey L. Bradach
Managing Partner and Co-founder
The Bridgespan Group