New Website and Report Increases Hope for Philanthropic Investment in Native Communities

Published September 12, 2019

LOS ANGELES AND NEW YORK —  Native Americans in Philanthropy and Candid have launched a first of its kind website, Investing in Native Communities, to encourage greater philanthropic funding and support to Native communities in the U.S. The free site, the only go-to hub for funding data, research, history, and other resources, provides funders the crucial information they need to best support Native communities and causes.

“Philanthropy has consistently under-funded Native communities and, particularly, Native-led organizations,” said Edgar Villanueva, chair of Native Americans in Philanthropy’s board and author of Decolonizing Wealth. “A lack of available information has enabled this as funders often don’t know what is being funded, how to effectively engage with Native stakeholders to create impact, and the history that has contributed to the unique challenges Native communities face today. This website is an important tool to begin to fill this knowledge gap and drive more attention and investment to Native communities.”

The information on this site will help both new and more experienced funders seeking to increase their knowledge about Native Americans and their shared history. The website centralizes information so users can:

· Visualize the geographic landscape of philanthropic funding for Native Americans

· Recognize why funding for Native communities is important

· Learn from the knowledge and experiences of other organizations

· Expand their understanding of U.S. history through a Native lens, replacing false narratives and misconceptions

“As philanthropy increasingly works to operationalize equity, we need better data, shared knowledge, and reciprocal partnerships to inform that effort,” said Bradford Smith, president of Candid. “The website provides data about who is funding Native communities and causes and where that funding is going. The website also aggregates knowledge about what organizations are learning, so that we can all increase our understanding and improve our practices, together.” The website is accompanied by a new research report, Investing in Native Communities: Philanthropic Funding for Native American Communities and Causes, which provides the most up-to-date analysis of how institutions have supported Indigenous communities in the U.S.

Key findings from the report include:

· From 2002 to 2016, large U.S. foundations gave, on average, 0.4 percent of total annual funding to Native American communities and causes, even though the American Indian and Alaska Native population represents 2 percent of the total U.S. population.

· Funding for Native American communities and causes significantly dropped following the recession. Although grant dollars increased slowly afterwards, giving in 2015 and 2016, adjusted for inflation, was at roughly the same level as in 2006.

· Twenty percent of large foundations give to Native communities and causes, but even among this specific group, most give only one or two grants. More funders need to be engaged—in a meaningful and intentional way—for persistent underinvestment to be addressed.

· Most grant dollars are for program support (56 percent); only 15 percent goes to general operating support. General operating support is often viewed as essential for Native-led organizations to have the flexibility and autonomy to achieve their missions.

The report also consolidates advice and feedback from 20 philanthropic and Native leaders, who reflect on successful work and practices in partnering with Native organizations and communities. Drawing from their expertise, the report and web portal provide concrete next steps for foundations.

The website will be publicly celebrated at Native Americans in Philanthropy’s 30th anniversary summit, “Together we Rise. Together we Soar” in Chicago on September 19. For more information about the summit and to register, visit: nativephilanthropy.org/30anniversary.

This project was made possible with support from the Bush Foundation, Henry Luce Foundation, Marguerite Casey Foundation, Northwest Area Foundation, and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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