Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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The Black Social Change Funders (launched by Hill-Snowdon Foundation and ABFE) presents “The Case for Funding Black-Led Social Change” as a charge to inspire sustained commitment to strengthen and expand the infrastructure for Black-led social, institutional and political power in the U.S.

Why is the focus on Black-led organizations?

Self-determination is an abiding and essential social justice principle,as expressed in the maxim that those most affected by an issue must be at the forefront of resolving that issue. The call for strengthening the infrastructure for Black-led social change is fundamentally a call for philanthropy to fully actualize this most basic principle of social justice, racial equity and human rights.

Building a powerful Black-led infrastructure for social change will best ensure the changes necessary to create thriving Black communities and to dismantle anti-Black structural racism. We argue that regardless of issue focus, all foundations committed to equity, justice and fairness should have an explicit focus on supporting Black-led social change to achieve their goals.

This infrastructure would not only benefit Black communities, but the nation as a whole. A strong infrastructure for Black institutional and political power is the cornerstone of an effective and broad multi-constituency movement for deep and lasting social change in this country. As history has demonstrated, when the Black community increases its capacity and power to dismantle anti-Black racism and white supremacy, it helps ensure a more equitable future for everyone.

This is what is meant when people say, “When Black folks get free, we all get free!” Free to be our true and full selves. Free to strive together as a broader human family that maximizes the talents of all for the good of all.

(The Case for Funding Black-Led Social Change)

Why not focus on building multi-racial alliances?

Multi-racial alliance building should not be done at the expense of building Blackled infrastructure for social change. We embrace building multi-racial alliances as an important organizing principle for building power for communities that suffer similar political exclusion due to structural racism.

However, we oppose the loss of political distinctiveness from the use of terms like “people of color” and also the zero-sum approach of multi-racial alliances that too often exclude Black-led groups.

A true approach to multi-racialism would mean a focus on racial equity and require a differentiated analysis of the needs of Black, Latino, Asian and Native people, as well as a tailored investment strategy that builds the capacity and power of each of these groups to secure equitable outcomes.

(The Case for Funding Black-Led Social Change)

What should philanthropy do?

The BSCFN recommends that philanthropy, both foundations and donors, prioritize sustained, long-term investments in Black-led infrastructure in seven key areas:

  • Civic Engagement & Political Power.
    Building the political power of the Black community is a sorely needed and central capacity to create thriving Black communities. This includes strengthening and/or building Black-led C3 and C4 organizations locally and nationally. It is also important to fund strategies for litigation and defense against legal threats and attacks.

 

  • Community Organizing & People Power.
    A well-organized Black community will fuel change in this country. A significant increase for “pre-existing” and “new guard” Black community organizing groups and networks is essential.

 

  • Policy Advocacy & System Reform. Greater capacity is needed to support legislative advocacy to influence, develop and disseminate policy and model legislation, and to assess their impact on the Black community. In addition, it is important to fund multi-issue work that allows intersectional approaches to address the complexity of anti-Black racism.

 

  • Economic Development & Economic Power.
    Building wealth is a major strategy toward
    better opportunities for the Black community. As such, it is important to strengthen and connect leaders and organizations to expand Black businesses and increase their access to credit and operating capital (through CDFIs, cooperatives, etc.).

 

  • Research & Intellectual Power. To facilitate change in the Black community, stronger connections between Black researchers and research organizations are needed to carry out work relevant to our experiences and needs. Support could include partnerships between HBCUs, endowed chairs and existing or newly created Black think tanks, etc.

 

  • Communications Narrative & Social Power.
    Change for the community is intrinsically tied to the “narratives” about who Black people are. It is important to strengthen media and strategic communications to advance accurate portrayals and images of Black realities. This includes support for Black journalists, social media activism and the use of the arts to shape accurate Black narratives.

 

  • Leadership Development & Strategic Convenings. The most fundamental part of the infrastructure for Black-led social change is skilled and supported Black social change leaders. Philanthropy must invest in supporting and expanding the leadership pipeline of Black social change leaders across a wide spectrum of issues and sectors. This can be done through supporting skills building trainings, fellowships and other leadership development strategies. Also critical are regular convening opportunities for Black social change leaders to build relationships, cultivate strategic partnerships, and develop collective action plans and visions for Black social change. This should be a standard part of the infrastructure that philanthropy supports as a matter of routine.

(The Case for Funding Black-Led Social Change)

#CLLCTIVLY

Research & Resources

“If average Black family wealth continues to grow at the same pace it has over the past three decades, it would take Black families 228 years to amass the same amount of wealth White families have today.”

“Charity is commendable, but justice is transformational. How will you spend your resources?” 

“Networked capacity building is about leveraging relationships with organizations and individuals to access resources, exchange ideas, address shared issues, and collectively problem-solve in an effort to build capacity, both for your nonprofit and for the network, with the common goal of addressing pressing social concerns.

We must all unite and direct our resources and infrastructure toward Black-led social change if we are adamant about shifting the Black narrative in America.

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