“Fund Us Like You Want Us to Win” — How White Folks Can Move Money NOW to Resource the Uprising and What Comes Next

ClaudiaHorwitz
8 min readJun 21, 2020
No Justice, No Peace mural — red fist and heart on black background
Mural in downtown Providence

It’s June 2020 and we are living history. Continued police violence is resulting in more death of Black people, the uprising in our streets continues perhaps beyond our collective imagining and there is an opening for real systems change in our city budgets, institutional practices, social systems and more. We should make no mistake how we got here: decades of organizing and the wisdom of struggles for liberation led by Black, Indigenous and People of Color. As this mass resistance in the streets creates possibility it also calls for greater responsibility for and from everyone who loves justice — and white folks very specifically — to move money to Black, Indigenous and POC-led organization, efforts and individuals, as well as poor and working class white organizing — working in and committed to a liberatory frame. To ensure forward movement beyond this news cycle or election season, we must be thinking and acting to bring greater financial security to Black, Indigenous and POC-led work and to those organizing poor and working class white people. This is the only way to keep building a sustained multiracial, cross-class movement for justice.

Now is the time to decolonize our imaginations. Now is the time to ensure we are financially supporting the transformative change those in the streets are pushing for, and that so many have given their lives for in the history of this country. Now is the time to move more money to those who are on the frontlines of the uprising who often work without sustainable income. Now is the time to make sure that movement organizations and networks are funded to do their fullest and best work without having bodies and spirits worn down to the ground in the process. Now is the time to dig deeper and leverage privilege in the form of both relational ties (private, vocational, public) and financial power. In the words of Ash-Lee Henderson, Co-Executive Director of the Highlander Center and a leader in the Movement for Black Lives, “Fund us like you want us to win.”

Black Lives Matter painted in yellow on streets of Tulsa
Black Lives Matter in Tulsa, OK

The ideas and suggestions below stem in part from a process currently underway to support white folks to move money. Many people have contributed to the thinking and work below including Arrington Chambliss, Allyn Maxfield-Steele, Atiba Mbiwan, Carla Wallace, Jeanette Stokes, John Dempsey Parker, Lynne Walter, Maggie Heraty, Marian Urquilla, Omisade Burney Scott, Pam McMichael, Sage Hayes, Shifra Bronznick, and Tema Okun. (Any/all failings are mine.) It is being updated regularly to incorporate wisdom from the “moving money” triads that formed in June 2020.

All of this took root with inspiration from Kenny Bailey, the Design Studio for Social Intervention (DS4SI)’s paper, The Work After Our Rage and a subsequent list of suggested steps from DS4SI for engagement and action. This is list followed by more specifics of what we can do.

(1) Ask Black / Indigenous / Immigrant leaders what they and their organizations need to work at full capacity. What do they truly need to engage in this fight full force?

(2) Ask yourself what connections you have to financial resources, donors and philanthropic networks. Literally map them out, write down their names.

(3) Activate your relationships. Remember, these relationships do not belong to you. This money is not yours or theirs. This wealth is the result of theft and the inheritance from the racist brutality of capitalist America.

(4) Put yourself out there and put your friends and networks to work to fully fund Black, Indigenous and immigrant leaders and their organizations. All of them. At this moment the work needed is simply too complex and daunting to not have all hands on deck at full capacity.

(5) Ask at least 5 friends to do this assignment too.

(6) And don’t forget, if you have the personal capacity to financially support BIPOC leaders and organizations ,do that, too.

Working with and through whiteness

It’s normal for white folks to feel guilt, shame, confusion and/or freeze in this moment. Rather than using any of those states to avoid deeper inquiry or involvement, we can work through that in a parallel process to action. Being in community with others helps break the isolation that money in a capitalistic economy often breeds. There are resources at the end of this article to assist you in further exploration and education. And moving money requires most of us to step into a new role. We’ve got to lean into the discomfort and the tension that comes with this. In the words of Shifra Bronznick, when. you ask “people may be taken aback and then taken forward.”

What everyone can do

  • Set a goal of how much to give monthly or yearly, like tithing. Working class families often give 10% of their income each year. If you come from middle, upper, or owning class backgrounds, maybe you can match that. Calculate the interest you get on assets/investments, and make a commitment to redistribute that each year. This can also include “auditing” your spending and consumerism and supporting BIPOC owned businesses. This can include moving your savings, investments, and retirement into BIPOC banks, credit unions, or to community development financial institutions (CDFIs) that support communities of color. It can also include supporting individual practitioners, artists, healers and others who are unaffiliated with a 501c3 nonprofit organization.
  • Educate yourself and others to think about where their investments are going, to learn more about who is doing transformative work locally, and to pressure community, corporate and municipal investment to support Black, Indigenous and POC-owned businesses. Solidarity Economics is a great starting place for this. And do your own research into the liberatory and transformational work that Black, Indigenous and People of Color are doing. Look locally to see who is organizing, supporting and showing up in your own community. Think about who is leading organizing and base-building, policy and advocacy to redirect public resources, and healing justice and emotional/mental support work.
  • Gather with others in a giving circle or form a triad that meets over 1–2 months to set goals and hold each other accountable for meeting them. A triad can help each person drill down on their motivating values for giving, hone in on the possibilities of moving money in this moment, and work through challenges that might arise.
  • Push institutions you’re connected to. Most religious organizations put money into the social safety net in one form or another. Some religious denominations have massive endowments or capital reserves which can be accessed with a strategic approach and thoughtful conversations. The same is true for some private universities and foundations.
  • Join an existing outlet. There are a number of groups that gather and organize donors including: Giving Project Learning Community, Resource Generation (for people ages 18–35 with wealth or class privilege), Solidaire Donor Network (people who can move $50K or more) which recently launched the Black Liberation Pooled Fund to move at least $5M; Cypress Fund (moving resources to grassroots organizing and social change groups in North and South Carolina, decisions made by grassroots organizers); and Liberated Capital: A Decolonizing Wealth Fund that supports Indigenous and POC-led initiatives.
  • Think beyond the 501c3 construct. In the “moving money” triads of summer 2020, folks are being very creative beyond the traditional form including moving money to POC-led organizations who aren’t 501c3s, planning for wealth transfer and debt forgiveness, supporting Women of Color leaders for their labor and livelihood.
Mural in Providence, RI. Photo by Sage Hayes

A personal example

I’ve been doing my own reckoning about what more I can do in this moment. I come from an upper-class background and will likely inherit wealth at some point in the (hopefully far) future after my parents pass. For now, I make very good money as a consultant and I tithe 10%, to a range of social justice organizations; giving dana (or “generosity”) to spiritual teachers I practice and study with; and supporting other things like public radio, libraries and food banks. I do this both through monthly giving (including to Highlander Center, Showing Up for Racial Justice, Movement 4 Black Lives, Working Families Party and BYP 100) as well as one-time donations. In addition to upping my own giving, my commitment is to help raise $100K forM4BL and $100K for SURJ by the end of 2020.

If you work in philanthropy

As many have said, now is a good time to think about what rules you are willing to break if you work in philanthropy. Most of the actions below will require a series of internal conversations in order to move boards and staff towards a different approach. Some of these conversations may feel risky and it is an especially critical time for white people to be speaking up, not just as allies but in full solidarity. Here’s some of what’s possible:

  • Increase your grant-making dollars by increasing the draw of funds from endowment (i.e., from 5 to 7 or 10%), pushing donor-advised funds to spend more or spend down.
  • Divest endowed dollars from the police, prisons, arms industry, and the criminal legal system
  • Simplify (or even eliminate) your application and reporting processes, ensure that resources made available are accessible without a lot of hoops to jump through.
  • Move quickly to collaboration in the form of a collaborative partnership of funders and leaders in your local area with a shared goal or connect with those who’ve been organizing funders to resource movement work for decades. For one example, see the Southern Power Fund below.
  • Study and implement “Decolonizing Wealth,” Edgar Villanueva’s seminal book on how Native American ways and frames can transform philanthropy’s fatal flaws through brave healing.

Where you might start

It’s important for each of us to do our own research and learning about who is creating and leading work in our own communities — as well as nationally — that is focused on liberation. On through an anti-oppression lens.

Active 2020 Movement Organizations Working for Black Liberation

Black Lives Matter

Black Youth Project 100

Local and national bail funds

Movement 4 Black Lives

Movement Voter Project

Showing Up for Racial Justice

Southern Power Campaign: 4 BIPOC organizations in the South are collaborating to raise $10 million to distribute for work happening on the ground now and to long-term organizing strategies. You can give to each of the four organizations: The Highlander Research and Education Center (designate “Southern Power Fund”); Project South (write “Southern Power Fund” in the memo line); Southerners on New Ground (SONG) (UNCHECK the box that says “Yes, I want to be a member of SONG” and check instead “I’d like to contribute to the Southern Power Campaign”); and Alternate Roots.

Additional resources

Abolition Study — list of resources

Anti-Racism Resources

Resources for Accountability and Actions for Black Lives

Resources: racism and white privilege

Resources for anti-racism and somatic abolition work

Scaffolding Anti-Racist Resources

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ClaudiaHorwitz

committed to liberation: yours / mine / ours. facilitator. writer. teacher/seeker.