The Hell-Raiser's Blog - A Friendly Suggestion for Funders

A friendly suggestion for foundation, governmental agency, and other funders committed to social justice and serving under-served communities

Here's my proposal (no pun intended): At your next retreat, committee meeting, or ..., take a look at your funding guidelines, and ask yourselves ...
Could a nonprofit serving immigrants and refugees, founded and staffed by immigrants and refugees, and operating on a shoestring budget, realistically compete for our support? The hot lunch program or after-school program started and run by low-income folks? The emergency shelter started by formerly homeless people?
Some red flags:
  • you don't accept unsolicited proposals,
  • you don't fund staff,
  • you under-fund staff,
  • you don't fund "snacks,"
  • you require audited financial statements,
  • you require organizations to have operated for at least five years/have an on-site kitchen/have a budget of at least $250,000/have a full-time, paid staffer...
  • no funding for fundraising.
These are the kinds of practices that explain why, for example, so many services for non-English-speaking immigrants and refugees are provided by big nonprofits whose boards and staffs are predominantly white and financially secure (i.e. have money or know people with money who can pad their nonprofit wages, if necessary).