Despite growing challenges to civil rights, inclusion and economic justice across the country, and especially in the South, the philanthropic sector has not recognized the potential in local organizations and the legacy civil rights infrastructure of the Alabama Black Belt, the Mississippi Delta and places like them across the South.
These two regions benefited from just $41 in foundation funding per person between 2010 and 2014, compared to the national funding rate of $451 per person and the New York state rate of $995 per person. Just 16 percent of the $55 million given by foundations to benefit these two regions in that five-year time frame was for power-building strategies like policy reform or community organizing.
Beginning in 2016, the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) and Grantmakers for Southern Progress began documenting the challenges, opportunities and assets of Southern communities like Selma. They interviewed more than 90 community, nonprofit and foundation leaders and co-hosted four focus groups to gather as much information as possible from the people who know best.
The result is the can’t-put-down report As the South Grows: On Fertile Soil, issued by NCRP last month.
One of the most compelling cases to be made in the report is, simply, that Southern grantseekers are treated differently than their geographic counterparts. I found the following Do’s and Don’ts telling, both in their face value and in the fact that they needed to be explicitly stated.