Entitled the Open Letter to Philanthropy, the letter is a call to action offered by philanthropic leaders including the Ford Foundation, Pivotal Ventures, a Melinda French Gates company, Solidaire Network, Clara Lionel Foundation, and others.
Today, several of the most notable names in philanthropy released a powerful open letter addressing the urgent need for more funding to be distributed to Black feminist organizations and movements around the world. Asserting that funding Black feminist organizations is not only the right thing to do, but is also essential to eradicating the most significant systemic challenges facing democracies around the world, the eleven signers believe the first step in making a swift intervention is to support the Black Feminist Fund in reaching its goal of $100 million.
Hakima Abbas (she/her), co-founder and co-executive director of the Black Feminist Fund, the world’s first global women’s fund singularly devoted to Black women and Black feminist agendas, said the letter was the result of many conversations with funders and organizations over the past year, all who are aligned in the need to make progress in closing funding gaps for Black feminist organizations, including the Black Feminist Fund which to date has raised $35 million toward its goal.
“This open letter is a statement of solidarity from many of our funding partners,” said Abbas. “We are grateful to see them extend and expand their support of Black feminist work in this powerful way. We are hopeful that others across philanthropy will realize that funding Black feminist work is funding the work that will ultimately lead all of us— across race, gender, class and other identities— to a safer, more just society.”
The letter was signed by the leaders of Solidaire Network, Pivotal Ventures, a Melinda French Gates company, Ford Foundation, Clara Lionel Foundation, Foundation for a Just Society, Libra Foundation, The Meadow Fund, Farbman Family Foundation, Satterberg Foundation, The MacArthur Foundation, and Wellspring Philanthropic Fund. Each organization has funded the Black Feminist Fund and others working to end racial inequity, gender inequity and other forms of systemic violence. For the signers, the letter presented the opportunity to participate in an unprecedented global intervention alongside their colleagues. But more importantly, it was a sense of responsibility that drew them in by illuminating their role in ensuring that the most necessary and significant work happening in service to liberation and just democracies is abundantly resourced.
“We need more funders to step up to address systemic discrimination in our philanthropic system,” said Haven Ley, Managing Director of Program Strategy and Investment at Pivotal Ventures. “We support the Black Feminist Fund open letter because racial equity is fundamental to advancing social progress, and together, we have the power to unlock the full potential of Black leaders.”
In 2018, out of nearly $70 billion in foundation giving globally, less than half of one percent went to Black feminist social movements. As experts in the funding world who have historically supported progressive movements and organizations working in service to just democracies, the group notes that the disparities in funding Black feminist work are commensurate with the ways in which Black women, trans, and gender-expansive people experience systemic harms.
“We know from extensive research that those most impacted in our communities receive little funding for their work— work being done to find solutions to both their own circumstances and others around them,” said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. “As mission-aligned funders, we have a responsibility to work with our colleagues across philanthropy to ensure we’re addressing this disparity in resources to ultimately close the vast funding gaps for those building a world of equality for all of us.”
Having brought together Black feminist researchers and experts across the globe, this February, the Black Feminist Fund will also release the results of its novel research report entitled “Where is The Money for Black Feminist Movements?” The report is a deep dive into the state of funding for Black feminist movements and examines the extent and the impact of that long-standing under-resourcing.
The group behind the letter is hopeful that this call to action will generate more opportunities for funders, movement workers, advocates, and others to enter into a deeper conversation about the future of funding Black feminist work.
“The Black Feminist Fund is raising $100 million to move resources to Black feminist movements because we know that our movements deserve this level of support and so much more. This letter is an invitation, not a single transaction,” said Tynesha McHarris, co-founder and co-executive director of Black Feminist Fund. “The days of resourcing Black women, trans and gender expansive leaders with pennies are over and we’re inviting our colleagues to join us in making that reality available to Black feminists around the globe.”