By Lesley Green-Rennis
- In December 2020, social justice funding fell to just 5% of donation share
- 35% of the $20.2B in U.S. charitable giving for COVID-19 was explicitly designated for communities of color
The killing of George Floyd and the ensuing nationwide wave of protests, sparked an unprecedented level of charitable giving. Money came in so fast and so unexpectedly that some groups were forced to turn away or redirect donors elsewhere. Few expected the generosity to last, and unfortunately, funding for racial equity causes abated in the last half of the year, falling to just 5% of donation share in December 2020, showing a gap between intention and action.
Why This Matters: The racial justice movement had a broad impact on philanthropic giving in 2020, before these donations plummeted at the end of the year. According to Benevity, a Canadian company that manages donations and other social responsibility functions for employees of companies, corporate donations increased 61% last year and individual donations increased 67%. The number of unique donors increased by 51% year-on-year, and people made 41% more donations. One standout group in fundraising was the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation that took in just over $90 million in 2021.
Progressive racial justice groups received a deluge of online donations to support their efforts. About 51% of all donations went to nonprofits such as the NAACP, Black Lives Matter, and the Equal Justice Initiative, nonprofits working to promote racial justice and equality. A similar report by Candid and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, found that 35% of the $20.2 billion in U.S. funding from corporations, foundations, public charities and high-net-worth individuals was explicitly designated for communities of color.
Situational Awareness/What’s Next: This past year saw an uptick in all levels of charitable giving to fight racial inequality and police brutality, with smaller gifts (less than $250) leading the way. In 2020, traditional, top-down corporate philanthropy was largely replaced with unprecedented grassroots action to create impact from the bottom up. Social justice groups now have a larger base of supporters to draw upon. Large corporations will do well to follow the lead of socially conscious individuals and let their social justice actions speak louder than their words.
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