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Barriers to Capital and Racial Equity in Philanthropy

Photo: Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Research context and overview

At Echoing Green, we know that talent is equally distributed, but opportunity is not. People all around the world have the bold ideas and lived experience to change their communities for the better, but a risk-averse funding sector leads to too many emerging leaders unable to receive support. This risk aversion is most prominent when it comes to leaders of color. Every year, we collect information and data from social entrepreneurs applying to our Fellowship program. Year after year, we find stark disparities in funding along race: in 2019, Black-led organizations were 24 percent smaller than the revenues of their white-led counterparts, and the unrestricted net assets of the Black-led organizations were 76 percent smaller than their white-led counterparts.

To illustrate this data and lay bare the racial disparity in today’s funding environment, we teamed up with The Bridgespan Group to release a research report that quantifies the depth of racial inequities in philanthropy and showcases why population-level impact cannot happen without funding more leaders of color and funding them more deeply.

Analysis and Review

Racial Equity and Philanthropy: Disparities in Funding for Leaders of Color Leave Impact on the Table

Published—May 4, 2020

The report identifies the drivers of bias, details how to break down barriers to capital, and underscores why racial equity is a strategic imperative for maximizing philanthropic impact.

Explore the report

From the Stanford Social Innovation Review: Overcoming the Racial Bias in Philanthropic Funding

By Cheryl L. Dorsey, Peter Kim, Cora Daniels, Lyell Sakaue & Britt Savage
Published—May 4, 2020

Co-written by the report’s authors, this article highlights the many barriers that leaders of color face in the social sector and points to four tangible solutions to address these disparities.

Read the story

From the New York Times: In Philanthropy, Race Is Still a Factor in Who Gets What, Study Shows

By Paul Sullivan
Published—May 1, 2020

Echoing Green President Cheryl L. Dorsey shares how foundations can approach the current crossroads created by COVID-19’s impacts: they can either return to the status quo, or they can use this moment to evaluate different ways to fund groups in need.

Read the story

From the Harvard Business Review: The Problem with “Color-Blind” Philanthropy

By Cheryl L. Dorsey, Jeff Bradach, and Peter Kim
Published—June 5, 2020

Cheryl L. Dorsey (Echoing Green President), Jeff Bradach (Co-Founder and Managing Partner at The Bridgespan Group), and Peter Kim (Partner, Chief Learning and Innovation Officer at The Bridgespan Group) summarize Echoing Green and The Bridgespan Group’s research on racial equity and funding in philanthropy and offer race-conscious solutions for funders and philanthropists to put racial equity at the center of their grantmaking.

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From Grantmakers For Effective Organizations: Philanthropy’s Racial Funding Gap is an Urgent Crisis

By Cheryl L. Dorsey, Peter Kim, and Marcus Walton
Published—July 27, 2020

Cheryl L. Dorsey (Echoing Green President), Peter Kim (Partner, Chief Learning and Innovation Officer at The Bridgespan Group), and Marcus Walton (President & CEO of GEO) highlight the need for funders to take deliberate action to achieve racial equity, while also offering strategies that grantmakers can apply to work toward equitable philanthropy.

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