Where next for anti-racism funding?

Two recent reviews investigate how organisations led by black people are being supported in their work to tackle inequality and develop anti-racist work. Dinah Cox reports.

Line drawing of two men with masks on
  • Author: Dinah Cox
  • Published: 14 April 2021

City Bridge Trust is a funder which takes an evidence-based approach to meeting our vision for London as a city where all individuals and communities can thrive. As such, we were pleased to see the release of two important reports on how organisations led by black people are being supported in their work to tackle inequality and develop anti-racist work.

As a member of the Funders for Race Equality Alliance we were actively involved in supporting the Alliance’s first report A quantitative analysis of the emergency funding to the UK Black and Minority Ethnic Voluntary Sector During Covid-19.

And as an investor in the research and development stage of the Baobab Foundation we were pleased to see the release of Digging Deeper: Insights on tailored funding to organisations led by Black people and communities experiencing racial justice in 2020 so early in the organisation’s life.

The reviews

The Funders for Race Equality Alliance review covered 34 emergency funds over eight months from March 2020. It identified and analysed the type, amount and purpose of funding awarded to Black and Minority Ethnic organisations in the voluntary and community sector.

The review notes that the largest amount given from a single fund was more than £19m from the London Community Response, the pooled fund element of which, the London Community Response Fund, was established by the City of London Corporation. The fund is administered and managed by City Bridge Trust. We are pleased to say this is continuing to deliver much needed funding to the sector in collaboration with our funding partners.

The Baobab Foundation’s research complements the review by the Funders for Race Equality Alliance and is part of Baobab’s work to understand how the Foundation can add value to the work of existing funders, along with the lessons which funders should apply as they develop their own thinking.

They spoke to 26 respondents across 19 organisations, focusing on funder insights and their experiences of implementing tailored funding programmes for black people and communities experiencing racial injustice in the UK.

Both reports cover a lot of ground and bring fresh insight to what can be done. At City Bridge Trust we agree that the Covid-19 pandemic exposed the racial inequalities already faced by Black and Minority Ethnic communities in London and elsewhere.

Historic underinvestment

The points made by the Alliance and the Baobab Foundation about redressing the historic underinvestment in organisations led by and for black people and communities experiencing racial injustice; about providing long-term support, and listening to and collaborating with the sector are all key to advancing greater racial justice.

Important practical steps such as making application processes for funds more accessible and flexible are also mentioned. Baobab spoke about a need to improve cultural competency, representation, and trauma-informed practices within funding bodies as well.

Both these reports chime with our conclusion that this much-needed increase in targeted support for race equality and Black and Minority Ethnic communities should not be temporary but should become permanent and sustainable.

The reports also highlight that funding organisations should move away from expecting people and communities impacted by racial injustice to adapt to the power dynamics of existing systems, which can reproduce trauma and harm, fostering perceptions of having to beg’ for money and having to explain how you’ve suffered’ to get it.

As part of City Bridge Trust’s review of our own funding, these two pieces of work will be invaluable in supporting us in our mission to reduce inequality and to foster stronger, more resilient and thriving communities, for a London that serves everyone. We are committed to continue working closely with London’s Black and Minority Ethnic voluntary and community sector to expediate and sustain this positive change across our city.

Dinah Cox is a specialist consultant working with City Bridge Trust, helping us to develop an action plan which builds on and strengthens our ongoing funding for projects which increase support for, engagement with, and equality within Black and Minority Ethnic organisations.