Local Foundations Underfunding Immigrant and Refugee Nonprofits

Local Foundations Underfunding Immigrant and Refugee Nonprofits

Large locally focused foundations are failing to provide nonprofits with financial support proportional to the immigrant and refugee populations in their states and the threats those groups face, an analysis by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy finds. 

Developed by NCRP's 2020 Movement Investment Project and based largely on publicly available data provided by Candid from a total of five hundred and thirty of the largest state-based grantmakers in each state and the District of Columbia, the analysis, Won't You Be My Neighbor: Local Foundations, Immigrants and Refugee Populations, found that while immigrants and refugees comprise 14 percent of the U.S. population, local foundations gave barely 1 percent of their grant dollars to benefit these communities in 2017-18 and only 0.4 percent of foundation grant dollars were awarded to pro-immigrant, pro-refugee movement groups involved in advocacy and organizing.

According to the analysis, 47.9 percent of the foundations in the dataset — two hundred and fifty-four foundations across forty-nine states — awarded at least one grant to an organization serving immigrant and refugee populations in 2017-18, and that just over half of those foundations awarded at least one grant to a pro-immigrant, pro-refugee movement group involved in organizing and advocacy. The analysis also found that foundations in less than a third (14) of states met or exceeded the 1 percent threshold for local funding benefiting immigrants and refugees, while foundations in only eight states matched or exceeded 0.4 percent of their shares of local funding for pro-immigrant, pro-refugee movement organizing.

An interactive data dashboard provides state-by-state profiles of local foundations' funding, including the percentage of grant dollars awarded to benefit immigrant and refugee communities, the percentage of grant dollars directed to advocacy and organizing, and gaps between those percentages and the share of foreign-born individuals in a state's overall population. 

"We expect local charitable institutions to be first in line to service the needs of our communities and especially of the most vulnerable among us," the authors of the analysis state. "One measure of local philanthropic responsiveness is the degree to which their grantmaking reflects local community demographics."

"There's a lot of discussion around how nonprofits will weather the current coronavirus pandemic, but not enough attention as to why movements continue to be underfunded in the first place," said NCRP president and CEO Aaron Dorfman. "If we want to effectively reverse decades of under-resourcing groups on the frontlines of catalyzing change, we need to be honest about where we are. This interactive dashboard provides both local activists and funders a shared view of where they stand and how to move forward together."

(Photo credit: Indigenous Roots)

"2020: Local Foundation Funding for Immigrant & Refugee Groups." National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy Report Summary 05/14/2020. "NCRP: Local Grantmaking to Immigrant and Refugee Communities Fails to Reflect State Demographics & Current Threats." National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy Press Release 05/14/2020.