The foundation said it scrapes by, but the local chapters know better.
The Black Lives Matters Global Network Foundation finally revealed its finances for the first time since its inception eight years ago.
The nonprofit raised $90 million in 2020. However, it faces a revolt from local chapters because they claim they see little of that money.
The group came back to prominence after George Floyd’s death in May:
The foundation said it committed $21.7 million in grant funding to official and unofficial BLM chapters, as well as 30 Black-led local organizations. It ended 2020 with a balance of more than $60 million, after spending nearly a quarter of its assets on the grant funds and other charitable giving.
In its report, the BLM foundation said individual donations via its main fundraising platform averaged $30.76. More than 10% of the donations were recurring. The report does not state who gave the money in 2020, and leaders declined to name prominent donors.
Last year, the foundation’s expenses were approximately $8.4 million — that includes staffing, operating and administrative costs, along with activities such as civic engagement, rapid response and crisis intervention.
The foundation formed a sister network, BLM Grassroots. Its chapters and other local organizations “became eligible for financial resources through a $12 million grant fund.”
Local chapters expressed frustration last fall due to the national organization’s lack of support. However:
Although there are many groups that use “Black Lives Matter” or “BLM” in their names, less than a dozen are currently considered affiliates of the chapter network.
According to foundation records shared with the AP, several chapters, including in the cities of Washington, Philadelphia and Chicago, were notified last year of their eligibility to receive $500,000 each in funding under a multiyear agreement. Only one BLM group in Denver has signed the agreement and received its funds in September.
In November, 10 chapters, known as #BLM10, sent a letter to the foundation to reject its funding offer. They demanded transparency with their funds.
The leaders claim the foundation recognizes “a few of the 10 chapters.”
The local chapters want more transparency:
In a letter released Nov. 30, the #BLM10 claimed most chapters have received little to no financial resources from the BLM movement since its launch in 2013. That has had adverse consequences for the scope of their organizing work, local chapter leaders told the AP.
The chapters are simply asking for an equal say in “this thing that our names are attached to, that they are doing in our names,” said April Goggans, organizer of Black Lives Matter DC, which is part of the #BLM10 along with groups in Indianapolis, Oklahoma City, San Diego, Hudson Valley, New York, and elsewhere.
“We are BLM. We built this, each one of us,” she said.
Since 2016, the foundation sent amounts between $800 and $69,000 to the chapters. The local leaders “said the amounts given have been far from equitable when compared to how much BLM has raised over the years.”
Co-founder Patricia Cullors tried to explain her way out of it by claiming the foundation was “often scraping for money, and this year was the first year we were resourced in the way we deserved to be.”
But the #BLM10 pointed out that is not how the BLM foundation portrayed itself to the public. Superstars like Jay-Z, Beyonce, and Prince poured money into the movement.
They have a point. The Daily Caller reported in June:
The national arm of Black Lives Matter spent millions on consultants, travel and compensation for its own staff between July 2017 and June 2019, according to audited financial statements prepared by its fiscal sponsor, Thousand Currents.
BLM Global Network spent $899,000 on travel, $1.6 million on consulting and $2.1 million on personnel costs during its 2017, 2018 and 2019 fiscal years, the financial statements show, together comprising 83.3% of its total spending during the three year period. BLM Global Network granted $328,000 to outside organizations, which include local BLM chapters, during that same time frame, a figure that represents about 6% of its total spending.
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