Philanthropy is based around getting resources to those who need them, whether that be food, clothes, education, or any other missing necessity. People who witness the imbalance of resources in their communities have the initiative to make change and start non-profits or projects seeking to correct these injustices, these people then become change-makers.
But, making change is difficult and requires money. Most social change focused organizations are nonprofits, and nonprofits get their money from fundraising. Today, fundraising can be achieved through many avenues, such as crowdfunding services like Kickstarter, that can generate funds from several small donations, or large contributions and commitments from entities with excess capital.
Entities with excess capital can look like a lot of things: it could be a financially successful individual, a company, or a government institution of some kind. Leadership within these entities are typically older white men. While the intentions behind large donations are good in nature, the source of this funding, and the unseen reasoning on why more funds might go to one non-profit as opposed to another, has a negative impact on the disbursement of resources between philanthropists and change-makers.
According to the US Census, 76 percent of Americans identify as white or caucasian, whereas 92 percent of philanthropic foundation presidents are white, 82 percent of executives within said foundations are white, 68 percent of small team managers within those foundations are white. 76 percent of millionaires are white, 65 percent of the federal workforce is white (Dorsey). Within professional social networks, an overwhelming majority of these networks are all white. This lack of representation in leadership results in a disconnect between philanthropic entities, and BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color) change makers.
The wealth gap in the United States makes it difficult for persons of color to move upward economically, because the systems in place for upward mobility favor white people. This is a result of many decades of racial inequality that has created a barrier of economic growth for people of color and communities of color. Many of these barriers are in direct relation to outdated laws and policies, many of which are no longer active, but our society still strongly feels the effects of.
We tend to want to help those who we can relate to and are similar to ourselves. Since a vast majority of wealth in the US is owned by white people, this inherent bias leads white led financial entities to fund white led projects, rather than those run by people of color. For example, reports from Echoing Green, an early-stage social innovation funder, state that groups and organizations with primarily black leadership generate 45 percent less revenue than their white led counterparts (Dorsey).
Bias exists, there's no getting around it. People tend to be more sympathetic not only to those who look like them, but those who’ve grown up in a similar culture or class environment. Therefore, a diverse distribution of funds comes from diversity within the fund givers; for foundations and government grants, this looks like actively making sure that a wider range of cultures and ideas are represented in leadership positions. It’s a tall task, but a necessary one if change is to happen for everyone who needs it.
At ShareYourself, we foster a community of inclusivity and diversity by supporting and assisting projects led by creators of all backgrounds. If you are interested in supporting a social change project, creating a grant, or just learning more about our platform, please visit the ShareYourself donor page to find out more.
Dorsey, C. Overcoming Racial Bias in Philanthropic Funding Retrieved November 13, 2020,
McGreal, C. (2010, May 17). A $95,000 question: Why are whites five times richer than blacks
in the US? Retrieved November 13, 2020, from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/may/17/white-people-95000-richer-black
Sullivan, P. (2020, May 01). In Philanthropy, Race Is Still a Factor in Who Gets What, Study
Shows. Retrieved November 13, 2020, from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/01/your-money/philanthropy-race.html