Successful nonprofit leaders know that building strong relationships and having a firm grasp on a personal “why” are foundational elements to master before approaching donors and funders. However, as more and more BIPOC leaders start and run nonprofit organizations, it can quickly become apparent that access to funding, donors and grantees is not equitable for all nonprofits or nonprofit leaders. Openly discussing these inequities and cultivating a group of advisers and funders with access to the dominant culture capital are useful in bridging the gap.
With any funders or donors, it’s important for all nonprofit leaders can articulate their personal “why.” BIPOC leaders have the unique opportunity to develop their own voice around what their experience as a leader of color has been. It’s important to not shy away from the truth in why they do this work. In addition to strong storytelling and connection, having a group of board members or funders that can work with BIPOC leaders is useful to bridge and eliminate the barriers that exist regarding equitable access to funding.
These conversations start in trusted relationships where both can acknowledge a dominant cultural capital exists and how the partnership is needed to eliminate the inequity. By developing an empathetic ear, both BIPOC leaders and donors are able to understand each other and not make assumptions about each other’s story or current needs and interests. Utilizing the relationship as a sounding board can make the experience mutually beneficial. Lastly, leaning on other BIPOC leaders is a great starting point for those newest in the nonprofit space.
It can feel daunting to those just starting out in the nonprofit world to understand where to connect with board members or donors to also act as advisors on accessing dominant culture capital. Connecting with other BIPOC leaders to share experiences about the successes and challenges raising this topic with stakeholders can be useful in preparing for conversations and building a network. Additionally, getting referrals from successful grantees is another good place to start.
Unfortunately, the circumstances surrounding inequitable access to funding won’t change overnight but reflecting on and discussing this publicly can bring attention to this issue.