#BlackLivesMatter - Our commitments one year on

This week marks the one year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and the anger, activism and action around the world as people united to stand against institutional racism. Here in London, we made a pledge to put equity and inclusion at the heart of the London Community Response, and in London Funders’ every day work to enable funders from all sectors to be effective. We promised to be open about what we are doing, so below we reflect on what we said we would do, and highlight what more needs to be done.

Here are the original commitments that we made in the summer of 2020 to take action together:

  • Funding groups fairly for their time where we ask for expertise, insight and support to get it right on equity and inclusion as a partnership – London Funders and the London Community Response funded six equity-led organisations (including Ubele and the Council of Somali Organisations) as part of its work to help groups working with the communities most affected by covid-19.  We have been sharing expertise and insights from our partners during the year, including blog posts, training,and through our newsletters to funders.
  • Designing funding criteria that reflect the asks of the communities we wish to serve, trusting the expertise of Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities – We worked with our equity partners to design the funding criteria and develop fairer processes to ensure that groups that are led by and for marginalised communities both felt confident to apply for London Community Response funding, and actually received funding – these criteria clearly stated that groups led by and for discriminated-against communities would be prioritised for funding. You can read more about our process journey in one of our learning reports..
  • Ensuring our funding application processes are as accessible as possible, and that groups are provided with support to overcome barriers that existOur equity partners were funded to provide proactive outreach to groups to help break down barriers, and London Funders held online events to outline what the funders were looking for and to answer questions from civil society.  This led to an increase in the number of applications, and in the success rate, for groups led by Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.
  • Transparently reporting on the proportion of funding that is given to groups led by Black, Asian and minority ethnic people and communities – Every grant made by the London Community Response can be found on its website, and we have also published a report which breaks down an overview of the various funding waves and the proportion of funding received by Black and minority-led organisations – in summary, this shows these community-focused organisations received at least 33% of grants through the London Community Response.
  • Resourcing partners representing Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities to act as critical friends to us, and seeking to ensure we are sharing power through genuine partnership– As well as funding our equity partners to work with the London Community Response on a long term basis, London Funders has also been collaborating with groups such as the Baobab Foundation, #CharitySoWhite and Resourcing Racial Justice to help achieve wider change in the funding sector, including being open about where we have more to do.
  • Sharing our learning as we go, recognising that we will not always get things right, but that it is only through listening and understanding that we will improve – Our recent Festival of Learning held several sessions on equity in grantmaking, covering lessons from the London Community Response and elsewhere in civil society, together with hosting sessions with Ubele on structural racism within the sector, Baobab Foundation on their ‘Digging Deeper report’ and the Funders for Race Equality on their Race Equality Audit. In addition we have published a report on ‘Learnings from the London Community Response’s equity-centred grantmaking during covid-19’,  we have highlighted useful reading on equity in our Covid-19 Resource Hub, and regularly share intelligence through our weekly Funder Five email to our members.

In our original statement, we recognised that organisations led by Black, Asian and minority ethnic people have not had investment and support to grow due to previous funding approaches. Despite increased funding to Black-led groups over the past year, we know that the sector still has a long journey to embed equity – as highlighted in Ubele’s recent Booska Paper report.

With this in mind, what next at London Funders? We’re going to build on our Festival of Learning (including publishing a summary of the points made and our next steps), will continue to facilitate opportunities for our members on to take action on equity, will amplify informative reports and intelligence to our members, and most importantly – we will continue to listen. If you’d like to talk to us about equity in funding, do not hesitate to get in touch with the London Funders team.