A Resource Guide for the Anti-Racist Fundraiser
I am not going to claim to be so self-righteous as to think that my fundraising blog is at the top of your mind right now. Our nation is in the midst of a global health crisis, unemployment is skyrocketing, and the streets are overflowing with concerned citizens righteously standing in opposition to racist incidents of police brutality. So for the few of you who may have stumbled here in hopes of learning more about the mechanics of the fundraising industry, I say this with all the love I can muster: now is not the time.
Let's get right to it. For more than 400 years, the systems that built and uphold American society have demonstrated a disregard for Black people's humanity. Today, brutal police forces across the country are strong-arming and killing Black people before our very eyes. Systemic racism and police brutality are long-standing realities that have contributed to many of the inequities that I have spent my career, and my life, fighting against. It’s the normalization of racist institutions — like the police — that officers are able to over-criminalize, attack, and vilify Black people without fear that they will ever be held accountable by the law. I fully support the rights of all people in this country to show up, speak out, and protest in the name of anti-racism.
As fundraisers, we may be quick to consider ourselves staunch social justice allies but I'd like to make one thing clear. The nonprofit industrial complex is not a space free from racism. Yes, many of us work at organizations with laudable missions but we also routinely use racist and classist tactics to advance our missions with little regard to the further oppression of communities of color and the homogeneity of our sector. Our fundraising philosophies and practices are mainly centered on making donors (who are mostly wealthy and white) feel good about themselves (more here). The time for change is now.
In addition to taking to the streets, I'd like to share a few resources to help our sector continue the vital work of bettering our workplaces by revolutionizing the ways we operate. I present them in no particular order below.
Read the report Money, Power and Race: The Lived Experience of Fundraisers of Color put out by Cause Effective here.
Read the landscape analysis put out by the Donors of Color network: The Apparitional Donor: Understanding and Engaging High Net Worth Donors of Color.
Read the hot-off-the-press report published by Echoing Green and The Bridgespan Group, Racial Equity and Philanthropy: Disparities in Funding for Leaders of Color Leave Impact on the Table. Read more about this report in the Harvard Business Review here.
Support the Building Movement Project and read their report Confronting the Nonprofit Racial Leadership Gap.
Research the demographic composition of your donors and make a conscious effort to diversify your constituency.
Sponsor a mentee's attendance at the Rooted Collective, a retreat for women fundraisers of color providing best practices in development, leadership, management, life, and wellness.
Support 'Our Right to Heal', a project highlighting the voices of Black Canadian women fundraisers.
Learn how your organization may be tokenizing staff of color and how you can stop it here.
Have courageous conversations with your staff on issues of racial equity.
Looking to hire a fundraising consultant? Check out Bridge Philanthropic Consulting, the nation’s only full-service Black and Women-Owned fundraising firm.
Learn even more about the diversity gap in the fundraising sector here.
Additionally, we all know that the tone of our organizations is often set by the folks in executive leadership or other positions of power. Is your board of directors making an intentional commitment to dismantling and undoing racism? If not, here are some easy strategies to take as enumerated by the Appalachian Community Fund:
require all board and staff to participate in anti-racist training and education;
dedicate time at each board meeting to discuss, lead, act, write, or reflect upon issues related to racism in our organizations, communities, country, and world;
commit a line in your budget for resources to work on anti-racism;
analyze the leadership, diversity, and culture of your organization;
look at your fundraising and grantmaking strategies through the lens of building anti-racist organizations and allies; and
most recently, develop and offer other resources such as workshops to organizations in the region.
In addition to reviewing the above, I hope you will join me in supporting and making space for the Black organizations and leaders already at the forefront of this fight.
Movement for Black Lives has organized a week of actions — each day making a demand that community, state, and national leaders must commit to in order to create meaningful change.
Black Visions Collective believes in a Minnesota and a country in which ALL Black lives not only matter but thrive. BLVC is dedicated to Black liberation, collective liberation, and to radical and ongoing investment in healing.
Text FLOYD to 55156 to learn more about Color of Change, the online racial justice organization building power for Black communities.
Black Voters Matter, a voter registration project protecting voting rights.
Contribute to the Minnesota Freedom Fund – an organization that bails incarcerated people out of jail – to help protestors arrested by police.
Educate yourself and the people around you: I encourage non-Black allies to deepen their understanding of how racism affects us all by reading these anti-racism resources and having conversations with your family and friends.
Urge your Members of Congress to support Congresswomen Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Barbara Lee, and Karen Bass’s resolution to condemn police brutality, racial profiling, and use of excessive force.
In closing, we must demand accountability; we must demand justice; and we must demand an end to the inequity that continues to define every moment of life for Black America. This work must start at home. I'd like to thank the countless authors and creators of this content and to my employer, Planned Parenthood, for helping me to frame this language. None of the referenced work is my own and I thank everyone for their contributions to the field. #blacklivematter Full stop.
“It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
― Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography
Juliana M. Weissbein, CFRE is a respected leader and decision influencer in regard to fundraising operations best practices. With over a decade of experience, Juliana thrives on professional growth, team success, measurable results, and inspiring fundraisers to utilize data-based strategies. Juliana currently serves as the Associate Director of Development Operations at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She is an AFP Global Board Member, AFP Global's 2019 Outstanding Young Professional Fundraiser and is a member of the AFP Global Women's Impact Initiative. Juliana is immediate past chair of the AFP New York City chapter’s Emerging Leaders Committee and currently serves on the chapter’s board chairing their mentorship program. She resides in Austin, TX and never turns down a good kombucha.