New investments are being made in communities of color. Money is beginning to move into social justice nonprofits and those providing lifeline and quality of life services. But will it be enough? Will this be a time of hit-or-miss gifts and grants that last a year or two and then fade away, or are we entering a time where communities of color receive consistent, meaningful investments? We each get to answer these questions, especially those who are associated with foundations and granting agencies where the question has even greater impact given that dollars invested are often larger. Here are five things to consider.
Do you want to be a change agent? A catalyst? An investor in innovation? A risktaker? There’s always someone out in front, leading the way, piloting new ideas. Someone who says “yes” to new ideas and gives enough money and resources to try out that idea. As a risktaker, you can choose to be sensitive to needs of nonprofits and the communities they serve, even if you are not a member of that community, or don’t necessarily agree that their way is the “best” way to meet a larger need such as reducing poverty, improving health outcomes, or increasing educational attainment. A change agent listens to the voices of the community and seeks to understand what they are seeking to achieve instead of what “officials” define as the path forward.
Are you all about sustain and grow? This is the vital and “non-sexy” funding of infrastructure and capacity. You could focus on ensuring Black-led organizations have the technology, leadership, boards, and systems that are the backbone of day-to-day operations and sustainability. You could have a related focus on supporting increased quality and effectiveness of existing programs – giving doesn’t always have to be to something “new.”
Money and more. You could be known for giving money and resources, connections, introductions, oversight, and exposure. This means thinking about grantees throughout the year. You become a match-maker, introducing nonprofits to other potential funders. You recommend professional resources and sometimes offer to pay for an attorney, accountant, change consultant, or trainer. You offer guidance, but don’t demand nonprofits follow your suggestions. When a nonprofit seeks new board members, staff, or consultants you help identify the qualities of the “right” person and help recruit.
Public recognition. You are proud to be publicly associated with the nonprofits you support. You lend your name and prestige to those you fund. You stand by them and help attract exposure for their work.
You make things easier and you make things hard. You look at your grant application and ask – why are we asking for this information? How long will it take a nonprofit to complete this? What are we trying to achieve with this? At the same time you ask hard questions of those you fund and demand accountability and transparency.
How do you want to be remembered? What do you want your legacy to be within communities of color? You get to choose.
[Copyright 2020 – Mel and Pearl Shaw of Saad&Shaw – Comprehensive Fund Development Services. Let us help you find your way through this unknown time. Video and phone conferencing services always available. Call us at (901) 522-8727. www.saadandshaw.com]