17th Jun 2020

Last autumn, the Community Foundation ran a series of #poweredbyphilanthropy events which challenged us to think about how well philanthropy serves diverse communities. It was clear then, and it remains so, that prejudice and discrimination, including racism, are as alive in the world of giving as in any other sphere. And we as a funding organisation have a responsibility to do something about all that, and to work with others so the North East can be a more equitable society. 

Right now, we are working hard to make sure that the funding we have to help during the Coronavirus pandemic reaches the people who most need help from small, local charities and community organisations in Tyne & Wear and Northumberland. It’s a particular concern to us that black, Asian and other minority ethnic (BAME) communities are being disproportionately affected during the crisis. So I’m pleased that we have funded many organisations whose purpose is to serve BAME and refugee and asylum-seeker communities, and others whose work supports places in our region with very diverse populations.

But, while among these groups we have supported a few organisations led by as well as serving BAME communities, we don’t think we’ve done enough. So we’re getting in touch with more BAME-led organisations we know who’ve not yet benefited from our Coronavirus funding to find out how we can help. And we’re working to identify BAME-led organisations we don’t know but who have been supported by others. Even then, we know we might miss some important organisations, so we’d welcome people getting in touch to tell us about their work so we can see if it’s something we can support (bearing in mind there are still things we can’t or don’t fund).

When we launched #PoweredByPhilanthropy in October 2019, I said we were listening and learning. Our latest Third Sector Trends research for the first time includes data on the diversity of chairs and chief officers in our region’s charities and community organisations. Our next Vital Signs reports will give voice to the lived experience of people from diverse communities affected by discrimination. Of course, none of this means we have all the answers on diversity and inclusion. But I hope we started and have continued to ask the right questions of ourselves and others. It’s never been more important to do so.

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