Making Grantmaking More Equitable

At CFPBMC we have worked with dozens of smaller nonprofits of color over the years. Some of those organizations have thrived, others have folded. Building healthy nonprofits requires strong leadership and dedicated staff. However, every organization that has these features does not always thrive and that is because of funding challenges. 

Not all dollars are equal.

In the fundraising world, some dollars are unrestricted and help grow a nonprofit's autonomy. Other funds come with lots of strings attached and a huge amount of paperwork (restricted). To be able to pick and choose which funds you accept is a luxury that many nonprofits do not experience. Unfortunately, nonprofits led by and for marginalized communities are more likely to end up with the more restrictive dollars and receive grants that perpetuate burnout and struggle. This is especially true for organizations that are small, new to receiving grants, or stuck in start-up mode. Research has found that Black-led organizations have 45% less revenue than white-led organizations and significantly less unrestricted dollars. 

Some ways CFPBMC focuses on equitable grantmaking:

We introduced Mini-Grants of $10,000 or less to newer/smaller organizations within the annual competitive process. This allows more grassroots organizations the chance to get projects funded that may otherwise have to compete with other, more established organizations.

We host grantee informational sessions across our service area. Instead of making organizations come to us to learn about competitive opportunities, before the beginning of every annual process, we go out to different parts of the service area to educate nonprofits about the competitive process and our three focus areas.

We adjusted our grant cycle timeline to expedite the decision-making process for summer programs. This allows organizations seeking funding for summer programs to be notified of funding decisions in March (as opposed to May for the rest of the annual grants cycle) to better plan and execute their programs.

Inequity thrives because we become accustomed to the way things are, and then we associate this familiarity with normalcy. Doing things differently invariably means mistakes will be made, perhaps sometimes publicly. This can be scary for any nonprofit. However, we would like to remind you we, too, are listening and learning together. Thank you for joining us.