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Investing in Black-led organizations

Mel and Pearl Shaw

Mel and Pearl Shaw

FUNdraising Good Times

Investing in Black-led organizations

      Are all nonprofits created equally? Do they receive equal investment? Have equitable access to resources and expertise? Do we need to take a closer look at Black-Led Organizations to help ensure their sustainability and effectiveness? What role do these organizations play and why are they important?

In the report Black-Led Organizations In The Bay Area: From Crisis to Change authors Constance J. Walker and Jeannine N. Walker refer to these organizations as “BLOs” and define them as “registered nonprofit organizations with Black staff and/or Board leadership.” Their report for the Bay Area Black United Fund documents and analyzes the results of surveys and focus groups that gather information about BLOs in the San Francisco Bay Area. Here are a few of their key findings.

Ninety percent of Bay Area BLOs identify themselves as Community-Based Organizations.  75% are mature organizations that have operated for 11 or more years. 47% have very small budgets of $500,000 or less while only 10% have budgets greater than $5,000,000. 42% have no reserves or endowment and, for those that do, it is most often insufficient. For 92%, the chief executive officer or executive director primarily conducts fundraising and resource development. Bay Area BLOs have limited staff support: 62% have staffs of 10 people or less and 84% have staffs of 20 people or less

For 59% of Bay Area BLOs at least 50% of their clients are Black and 30% serve a client-base that is at least 80% Black. On average, the ethnic composition of the population served by Bay Area BLOs is 59% Black and 23% Latino.

In terms of moving forward, Walker and Walker report that revenue, systems, training and leadership development will be critical to the success of BLOs and the communities they serve. They also reported that BLOs who participated in the study were very interested in a “collaborative capacity building initiative” that would target BLOs.

This report, written in 2015, has become a call to action. Since its publication five funders in the Bay Area have created a collaborative capacity building initiative designed to further develop the nonprofit sector by innovatively supporting the growth, sustainability and impact of BLOs.

What is the status of BLOs in your community? Do you know? Has anyone done the research? The time to learn is now. Our communities need us.

Learn more about the initiative at  

Read the original report at Copyright 2017 – Mel and Pearl Shaw

Mel and Pearl Shaw are authors of four books on fundraising available on For help growing your fundraising visit or call (901) 522-8727.

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