Defining equitable access begins at home
Roughly 10% of U.S. nonprofits are led by individuals from Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color, yet they only receive about 4% of grant dollars annually. The reasons for this are many, but it is no coincidence that over 90% of foundation CEOs are white. Organizations led by individuals of color face barriers to funding that their white-led counterparts simply do not, resulting in significantly less financial support.
Candid is in the unique position of serving as the most comprehensive data source for the social sector. Every day, people look to Candid for data on more than 1.8 million U.S.-based nonprofits and 164,000 funders to help them do good. It is our responsibility to maintain the quality of this vast data collection, but it’s just as important to ensure those who are impacted by pervasive funding disparities can access and use it to deliver on their missions.
Reducing funding inequities is a long-term project that begins at home. Through Go for the Gold, a promotion we made permanent last year, organizations with budgets under $1 million can access Foundation Directory for free when they maintain a Gold Seal of Transparency through their Candid nonprofit profile. When a nonprofit claims and updates their profile, they can then easily share the link to it with potential funders to tell their story, without needing to build a website.
To further support nonprofits in making the case for funding, we encourage them to share their organizational leadership’s demographic makeup. This makes it easy for funders centering equity in their grantmaking strategy to find grantees led by and reflective of the communities they serve (learn more at candid.org/dvc). Finally, in early 2023, we will offer virtually all capacity-building trainings at no cost to individuals. This shift acknowledges that cost should not be a barrier for nonprofit leaders to build the skills they need to best serve their communities.
These steps are a solid start to chipping away at pervasive inequities in funding practices. To further this work and deepen our commitment, Candid has formed a new Equitable Access department. This team of experienced, creative, and thoughtful folks is committed to ensuring historically marginalized nonprofits have the same opportunity as their well-resourced peers to secure funding. The team’s emerging strategy will guide our efforts to reduce barriers to funding already identified through a well-established body of research: a lack of social capital, lower visibility among funders and donors, limited capacity, and institutional and interpersonal bias.
These are positive developments, but moving the needle on equitable access to funding will require some big swings. We need to explore how we create more opportunities for Black and other leaders of color by directly connecting them with more funders, and how we can encourage funders to move beyond their current grantee portfolios and provide support with fewer or no restrictions. No solution will be perfect, and we do not have all the answers for how to eliminate the deeply entrenched, historic barriers Black, Indigenous, and people of color-led organizations continue to face. That we have created the space within Candid to step back and focus on the problem reinforces the organization’s willingness to harness our collective knowledge of the sector to direct funding to the places where it will do most good.
“Defining equitable access begins at home” is reprinted from Candid’s 2023 Annual Report.