Black History Month is a time to center the stories of Black Americans. There are many ways to celebrate and support — shopping at Black businesses like Harlem Chocolate Factory, watching a film by a Black director like Ava DuVernay, or even listening to a podcast like Historically Black to learn about Black history. But, it is really most meaningful to make a tangible impact like donating money to a nonprofit that directly supports the Black community — especially one that is Black-founded and led.
In other words, when you’re looking for causes to support this Black History Month (and every month!), consider supporting nonprofits that are led by a proximate leader.
What is a proximate leader?
As Stanford Social Innovation Review says, a proximate leader is “someone who has a meaningful relationship with groups whose identity, experience, or community are systemically stereotyped, feared, dismissed, or marginalized.” Leaders who are close to the communities and problems they seek to address possess crucial skills — such as experience, connections, and knowledge of the lived experience — that are imperative for creating solutions with lasting and quantifiable effects.
Why you should donate to Black-led and founded nonprofits
Keeping the importance of supporting proximate leaders in mind, here’s why you should consider making a donation to a Black-led nonprofit:
Black-led nonprofits are often underfunded and under-resourced, which can make it difficult for them to make a meaningful impact in their communities.
There is a deep-rooted racial bias when it comes to philanthropy and funding for charities with leaders of color. Barriers for Black-led nonprofits often include getting connected to, building rapport with, and sustaining relationships with potential funders. According to research conducted by Echoing Green and The Bridgespan Group, the unrestricted net assets (AKA, donations with no strings attached) of black-led organizations are 76% smaller than their white-led counterparts. And, of the total number of “big bets” (donations of $10 million or more) for social change (as opposed to institutional donees, like universities and hospitals) documented between 2010 and 2014, only 11 percent went to organizations led by people of color.
There are a few organizations working to directly combat this philanthropic injustice for the Black community, such as the New England Blacks in Philanthropy, which connects Black philanthropists, trustees and staff of grant making institutions to enhance philanthropy’s ability to address the needs of Black communities nationally and globally. This type of shift in approach to philanthropic giving can have a cascading impact on organizations that otherwise may not receive significant amounts of funding.
Impact looks differently for everyone. You can help bridge the funding gap for Black-led nonprofits and ensure that these organizations have the resources they need to make a difference. Below are four reasons to support Black-led and founded nonprofits.
Black-led nonprofits are often focused on addressing issues that disproportionately affect Black communities, such as racial justice, economic inequality, and police brutality.
Since 2020, causes specific to the Black community have shot up in public interest and in necessity. 81% of BIPOC-led organizations saw an increase in service demand during the pandemic compared to 67% of white-led organizations. The Black community especially has had a unique story of facing racism and persecution in this country, making it doubly important to support those who are making a tangible effort to advance and advocate for Black issues.
Supporting causes that have a more pressing need for funds can maximize your personal impact.
When you donate to a Black-led nonprofit, you are supporting Black entrepreneurship and leadership.
Black Americans are often underrepresented in nonprofit leadership positions (21% of executive directors and board chairs are people of color) and in the business world (just over 1% of Fortune 500 CEOs are Black).
By supporting Black-led nonprofits, you are reinforcing the support and importance of organizations having proximate leaders.
By donating to Black-led nonprofits, you are helping to build a more equitable and just society.
Black Americans have been historically marginalized and oppressed, and by supporting organizations that are working to address these issues, you can help to create a more equal and inclusive society for all.
Talk to one of our experts today to find out how Change can help you.
Black-led Nonprofits to Support in 2023
Below are a few amazing Black-led and founded nonprofits that have a national impact.
- Know your Rights Camp advances the liberation and well-being of Black and Brown communities through education, self-empowerment, mass-mobilization and the creation of new systems that elevate the next generation of change leaders
- NAACP Legal Defense Fund uses the power of law, narrative, research, and people to defend and advance the full dignity and citizenship of Black people in America
- National Urban League helps African-Americans and others in underserved communities achieve their highest true social parity, economic self- reliance, power, and civil rights
- Black Girls Code builds pathways for young women of color to embrace the current tech marketplace as builders and creators by introducing them to skills in computer programming and technology
- Outdoor Afro connects Black people with our lands, water, and wildlife through outdoor education, recreation, and conservation
- Center for Black Equity supports leaders, institutions and programs that directly impact the health, economic and social equities for LGBTQ+ people of African descent
- Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective (BEAM) is dedicated to the healing, wellness, and liberation of Black and marginalized communities
- Thurgood Marshall College Fund supports and represents nearly 300,000 students attending HBCUs, medical schools, and law schools
And here are a few that focus on local causes, doubling down on their immediate communities to maximize their impact.
- Rebuild the Hood is dedicated to the economic growth and sustainability of distressed and impoverished neighborhoods in the Chicagoland area
- Positive Black Male Association of Houston develops Black leaders in the Houston community through mentorship, personal development, educational opportunity, and community service
- SisterSong builds an effective network of individuals and organizations to improve institutional policies and systems that impact the reproductive lives of marginalized communities, operating primarily in the U.S. South
- Oakland Public Conservatory of Music opens the world of music to all through access to quality, economical instruction in a nurturing environment
- We Act for Environmental Justice is a Harlem-based org that expands political participation among communities of color and low income residents in order to impact environmental planning and decision making
- Washington Area Women’s Foundation mobilizes the community to ensure that economically vulnerable women and girls in the Washington region have the resources they need to thrive
- Black Education for New Orleans (BE NOLA) supports Black educators and schools to ensure an education that creates better outcomes and opportunities for Black children in New Orleans
By supporting these organizations, you can help to bridge funding gaps, address pressing social issues, support Black entrepreneurship and leadership, and build a more equitable and just society.