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Single women, Black households, LGBTQ+ households are more likely to give to racial justice organizations

March 10, 2022, 2:45 PM UTC

During the summer of 2020, millions of people across the U.S. took to the streets to demonstrate their support for Black Lives Matter. But in the nearly two years since the murder of George Floyd, media attention and financial donations toward racial justice nonprofits have waned, leaving activists wondering how to channel public support into meaningful change.

The Women’s Philanthropy Institute argues that to maintain and increase support for racial justice, we must analyze what it means to support a movement and what factors influence our different attitudes toward giving.

WPI’s Women Give 2022: Racial Justice, Gender and Generosity report found that public support of a cause does not always translate to financial backing. Surveying 2,073 U.S. households in May 2021, WPI found that 42% supported the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 but only 14.2% donated money to support racial justice organizations.

There is no formal definition for charities that fit within the “racial justice” category, but WPI sought to understand how respondents chose to categorize different organizations. The survey found that definitions varied widely, but there were some organizations that were included by a majority of respondents:

  • Social movement organizations, like Black Lives Matter or Say Her Name (61.1%)
  • Advocacy organizations, like Southern Poverty Law Center (50.3%)
  • Charitable organizations that serve mostly racial minorities, like food pantries (39.3%)
  • Families and/or individuals impacted by racial inequity (36%)
  • Minority-owned businesses (32.4%)
  • Research institutes/academic centers focused on racial equity (29.0%)
  • Historically Black Colleges and Universities (27.8%)
  • Nonprofits led by racial minorities (23.2%)
  • Bail funds (18.3%)
  • Supporting other individuals, like community leaders or entrepreneurs (16.1%)
  • Minority religious congregations (15.0%)
  • Mutual aid groups (11.7%)
  • Other (6.8%)

Charitable donations by companies and individuals reached $471 billion in 2020, making it a record-breaking year for philanthropy in the United States. Individual gifts made up a majority (69%) of these donations, and according to WPI’s research, the average donation per household to a racial justice cause was $725. Of the 14.2% who made donations for a racial justice cause, the majority (78.9%) chose to give to grassroots organizations.

Certain groups were more likely to be part of the 14.2% who donated money to racial justice organizations. Single women, Black households, LGBTQ+ households, and younger households demonstrated greater levels of support for the 2020 racial justice protests and were more likely to give money to related organizations.

“When compared to the average female donor to another cause (COVID-19 relief), women donors to racial justice are younger; more likely to be a woman of color; more likely to have a college degree; more likely to identify as LGBTQ+; more likely to be working; and less likely to be married,” the WPI survey found.

Support does not always equate to tangible action, the survey shows. While many Americans approved of the Black Lives Matter movement, fewer acted upon their support by by donating money, contacting their local representatives, and participating in protests.

The WPI report shows that individuals often give to causes they identify with. Historically marginalized communities are more likely to be supportive of and donate to racial justice causes. 

That’s part of why women connect so powerfully with this work around racial justice: they give to causes where they see themselves,” Dianne Chipps Bailey, chair of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute Council and managing director at Bank of America told Axios.

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