Institutional racism and inequalities within funding systems still need tackling, report concludes

More funding is needed for black and ethnic minority-led organisations whose focus is tackling racism, discrimination, structural inequalities and injustice, according to new research.

The report, Digging Deeper: Insights on tailored funding to organisations led by black people and communities experiencing racial injustice in 2020, was commissioned by the Baobab Foundation.

The foundation spoke to 26 respondents across 19 organisations in the UK.

Researchers found that much more needs to be done to address institutional racism and structural inequalities within funding systems.

It highlighted how the Covid-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests led to a surge in funding, although this support did not give sufficient attention to directly addressing racial injustice and structural inequalities.

The report’s timing is also significant in the wake of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, which concluded that the UK does not have a systemic racism problem.

Many in the sector were critical of its findings.

Researchers for the Baobab Foundation report found that hyper-marginalised groups such as black disabled people, Roma, gypsy and traveller people, women and trans people were under-represented and underserved by the funding made available, and continued to experience marginalisation within funding systems.

One respondent said: “Different marginalised communities cannot be lumped into one catch-all term like this [BAME]. It erases our own unique histories and the reality of the intersectional inequalities we face day to day.”

The report did acknowledge signs of progress, with a welcome shift toward participatory funding models, which it notes have seen reduced levels of due diligence, easing of application processes and funders taking on feedback from experts with technical and lived experience of racial injustice.

It also said there had been investment into the lived experience of funders and organisations who have played a critical role in building trust and creating access to tailored funds over the past year.

But it said progress was still limited because much of the funding offered so far was tied to Covid-19 efforts, and funding provision had been outstripped by the level of demand for resources and support. Funding has also failed to address geographical and intersectional disparities across the UK, according to the report.

The Baobab Foundation is calling for funders to commit to providing large-scale, sustained and flexible funding to organisations led by and for black people and communities experiencing racial injustice.

The report says: “Funders need to ensure racial justice efforts are not siloed, but intentionally cut across all social change strategies to ensure maximum impact to most marginalised communities in the UK.

“Funders need to work proactively to engage with diverse representation outside of London and on an intersectional basis, ensuring this is reflected back into decision-making structures throughout funding systems and processes.”

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