Black Philanthropy Month: Making the Change

By Maxine Thomas-Asante

In 2010, the Pan-African Women’s Network launched Black Philanthropy Month. The idea behind the event was to raise awareness of the underrepresentation of Black communities as recipients of philanthropic funding and to create a more equitable funding environment . Over time, this celebration spread across the United States and has been recognised by state legislatures and social organisations. This year, the theme for Black Philanthropy Month is ‘The Fierce Urgency of Now’.

While Black Philanthropy Month is ultimately an American initiative, the principles that make this necessary are also evident in British and global philanthropy. Across the board, Black communities receive less funding. Here, the word “Black” is taken to mean people of African descent from around the world. Whether we are considering bank loans for enterprise, academic research funding or philanthropic grants, Black communities are consistently the last to receive. The inequity in access to funding for Black communities is stark. In business, Black entrepreneurs receive just 0.24% of venture capital in the UK (1). Considering micro- and small- organisations, 87% of small initiatives led by racial minority individuals did not have sufficient capital to exist beyond 3 months (2). Regarding household income, Black African households receive 10p and Black Caribbean households receive 20p for every £1 of income brought in by white British households (3).

In addition to there being a racial disparity, there is also an intersectional geographical disparity. Looking particularly, at philanthropic funding, 66% of all funding is directed towards London, which homes 42% of all BAME communities in Britain. Other areas of Britain, such as the South East and West Midlands – which each host 10% of racialised communities in Britain – are significantly underfunded, receiving only 1-5% of funding (4). The cumulative effect of all of these statistics is that whether we are considering entrepreneurship, charity, or regular life Black and Brown communities are financially disadvantaged.

Economic disadvantage is important because in society our opportunities and life outcomes are tightly tied up with our access to resources. In other words, a lack of access to capital has knock-on effects. Our access to quality education, healthcare and the core essentials for life are often shaped by our access to capital. If we want to truly create a world where everyone has the opportunity to thrive, it starts with the equitable distribution of resources.

In response to this, Black Philanthropy Month calls for funders to make a deliberate and concerted effort to invest in Black initiatives during the month of August. This helps to build awareness of the innovative work happening and channel resources to underfunded communities. While this is very important, when considering economic liberation, grants are just the beginning.

A great start would be attending some of the fantastic events taking place this Black Philanthropy Month. We have thought of a few below but invite you to seek out more.

This Black Philanthropy Month we have an opportunity to think about how we can make our sector more equitable. We like to encourage wealth holders to consider the impact you would like to have and to be ambitious in the change you can make. Black Philanthropy Month is the perfect opportunity to start. Lastly, we want to remember that we can all be philanthropists. Whether we possess a little or a lot; whether we give money, labour or solidarity, we can all practice the love of humanity that makes our world a warmer, kinder and more liberatory place. It starts with ourselves.

Happy Black Philanthropy Month!


Sources and Further Reading


(1) Sifted – Sifted – Black Entrepreneurs Receive just 0.24% of capital in the UK – https://sifted.eu/articles/black-entrepreneurs-vc-funding/

(2) The Voice – Black Charities Starved of Funding Report –  https://www.voice-online.co.uk/news/uk-news/2022/01/21/black-charities-starved-of-funding-report/

(3) The Runnymede Trust – The Colour of Money Report – https://assets-global.website-files.com/61488f992b58e687f1108c7c/61bcc1c736554228b543c603_The%20Colour%20of%20Money%20Report.pdf

(4) The Funders for Race Equality Alliance – A Quantitative Analysis of the Emergency Funding to the UK and Black and Minority Ethnic Voluntary Sector During Covid-19 – https://www.equallyours.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/QUANTITATIVE-ANALYSIS-BAME-31-03-21-2M.pdf


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