Racial Equity Knowledge Center

Raising awareness about funding for racial equity efforts.

Racial Equity and Philanthropy: Disparities in Funding for Leaders of Color Leave Impact on the Table

by Cheryl Dorsey; Jeff Bradach; Peter Kim

May 1, 2020

Echoing Green and Bridgespan collaborated to research the depth of racial inequities in philanthropic funding. Based on what we see in our work as intermediaries in the sector, two of the biggest factors holding back philanthropy's efforts to help advance social change are rooted in race:



  • Understanding the role of race in the problems philanthropists are trying to solve;

  • The significance of race when it comes to how philanthropists identify leaders and find solutions.


Color-blind grantmaking, even when grounded in a well-meaning attempt at equity, is the crux of the problem. Philanthropist Jeff Raikes shares: "Tricia and I recognize that we come into this work with blind spots, as did many of our staff. Over the past few years we have challenged ourselves to better understand the ways a race-conscious approach leads to better results for the communities we want to support."


Race is one of the most reliable predictors of life outcomes across several areas, including life expectancy, academic achievement, income, wealth, physical and mental health, and maternal mortality. If socioeconomic difference explained these inequities, then controlling for socioeconomic status would eliminate them. But it does not. This means that donors who care about supporting social change must think more intentionally and proactively about race and racial equity.