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There is also an allocation bias in terms of philanthropic funding. Women’s groups are among those that continue to be underfunded, and only a small percentage of philanthropic monies go to organizations led by racial minorities, despite the high needs in these communities. According to a Greenlining Institute report, less than 5 percent of the charitable donations from more than 72,000 U.S. foundations are granted to communities of color. Research also has found that funding pertaining to Native American causes and concerns remains among the lowest, amounting to less than 1 percent of total giving.

Further, “relatively few nonprofit institutions serve the poor as a primary clientele.” Smaller and midsized nonprofits – those more likely to serve the poor – continuously lack access to reliable funding sources to help them cover their full operating costs. For smaller nonprofits, the restrictions that come with grant money spending is often prohibitive. Implicit bias in philanthropy affects not just which groups get funded but also who sits on the boards of philanthropic organizations (mostly white males), how grantmaking foundations set priorities, how decisions are made, who makes those decisions and even who gets hired. In 2008, a Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO) study found “a pronounced disconnect between the ways in which grantmakers are supporting nonprofits and what nonprofits say could contribute to their success.” The philanthropic community must ensure that implicit biases do not betray the conscious values at the root of philanthropic work. Achieving true transformative change requires people from diverse backgrounds to come together as a community, manage difficulties and undertake complex inquiries.

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