Echoing Green and The Bridgespan Group Join Forces to Analyze Racial Inequity in Philanthropy and Fundraising

New Research Names Four Key Barriers to Capital for Leaders of Color and Offers Recommendations for Overcoming Them

BOSTON, MA, May 04, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Bridgespan Group, a global nonprofit organization that collaborates with mission-driven organizations, and Echoing Green, an organization devoted to supporting emerging leaders and their early-stage organizations, today published a joint analysis on on racial inequity in philanthropy titled, “Overcoming the Racial Bias in Philanthropic Funding.”

While there is growing awareness in the philanthropic sector that equity and inclusion are necessary, there has not yet been a significant closing of racial gaps in funding. The Bridgespan and Echoing Green analysis found that among Echoing Green’s applicant pool, which includes the sector’s most promising early stage leaders, revenues of Black-led organizations are 24 percent smaller than the revenues of their white-led counterparts. The unrestricted net assets of Black-led organizations are 76 percent smaller than their white-led counterparts. Stark disparities persist even among organizations doing the same work. For organizations focused on improving life outcomes for Black men and boys in the United States, the revenues of these organizations that are Black-led are 45 percent smaller than those that are white-led, and the unrestricted net assets of the Black-led organizations are a whopping 91 percent smaller than the white-led organizations.

According to Bridgespan partner and co-author, Peter Kim, “Our research sought to identify what specifically is holding the sector back from realizing a more racially equitable reality and what we need to be doing differently so that the reality better matches our intentions and hopes.”

The article draws from interviews with 50 sector leaders, including nonprofit executives of color, philanthropic staff, and leaders working to address this issue, and builds on research of   others from across the sector focused on racial equity, offering fresh data. Bridgespan and Echoing Green researchers observed that leaders of color are hitting four barriers spanning every stage of fundraising. They include: getting connected to funders; building rapport with them; securing support for their organizations; and, sustaining the relationship once launched.

According to Cheryl Dorsey, president of Echoing Green and a co-author, “These barriers represent ways that unconscious bias can work its way into institutional processes and be internalized by philanthropic professionals. It’s unintentional, for the most part, but pernicious nonetheless.”

The researchers also traced funder norms that may inadvertently fuel the barriers and offer suggestions for actions funders can take to overcome these barriers.

These barriers result in chronic underfunding of organizations headed by people color as well as trauma and burnout among these leaders. “Leaders of color often bring powerful assets to social change work, including their lived experience, values, and deep community relationships. Excluding them from the funding process impedes their work as well as the impact of the entire nonprofit sector,” said Lyell Sakaue, a Bridgespan manager and another co-author.

“In sum,” said Kim, “clearly racial disparities in funding cripple impact. But such disparities also matter because without taking active antiracist measures to ensure equity in funding for the entire sector, philanthropists inadvertently contribute to inequities in society.”

To read the full analysis in “Overcoming the Racial Bias in Philanthropic Funding”

For further reading on this topic, see a separate but related article also released today on, “Racial Equity and Philanthropy: Disparities in Funding for Leaders of Color Leave Impact on the Table,” by Echoing Green President Cheryl L. Dorsey, Bridgespan Group Managing Partner and Co-founder Jeffrey L. Bradach, and Bridgespan Partner Peter Kim. It focuses more specifically on how donors who care about supporting social change must tackle racial inequity in their philanthropy and society.  Additional information can be can be found here:


About The Bridgespan Group

The Bridgespan Group ( is a global nonprofit organization that collaborates with mission-driven organizations, philanthropists and investors to break cycles of poverty and dramatically improve the quality of life for those in need. With offices in Boston, Mumbai, New York, San Francisco, and Johannesburg, Bridgespan’s services include strategy consulting, leadership development, impact investing, philanthropy and nonprofit advising, and developing and sharing practical insights.

About Echoing Green

For more than 30 years, Echoing Green has been on the front lines of solving the world’s biggest problems, raising up the transformational leaders willing to challenge the status quo. The organization finds emerging leaders with the best ideas for social innovation as early as possible, and sets them on a path to lifelong impact. Echoing Green's community of nearly 1,000 social innovators includes past Fellows like First Lady Michelle Obama, the founders of organizations like Teach For America and One Acre Fund, and public figures like Van Jones. Built and refined over three decades, Echoing Green discovers tomorrow’s leaders, today, and then funds, connects, and supports a new generation of social impact leaders. Visit for additional information.



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