The Ms. Foundation for Women conducted a study called "Pocket Change" that reveals how little philanthropy is helping women and girls of color.

Por Eliza Thompson
Julio 09, 2020

In a study called "Pocket Change: How Women and Girls of Color Do More With Less," the Ms. Foundation found that women and girls of color in the United States are drastically underserved by philanthropic giving. Of the $66.9 billion given by foundations in 2017, only 0.5 percent went to organizations by and for women of girls of color, averaging to about $5.48 per woman and girl of color in the U.S. The average is even lower in the South, at only $2.36 per person.

"Women of color have been at the forefront of almost every single social justice movement in this country and have continued to be the backbone of our political system and of our social justice systems," Teresa Younger, president and CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women, tells People CHICA. "The world that we are in never anticipated us to be in it, and it was designed without us. As we move forward, women and girls of color need to be included, they need to be funded, they need to be supported, and they need to be recognized for the brilliance that they bring to the table."

The "Pocket Change" study, done in partnership with the consulting group Strength in Numbers, collected data on more than 4,000 grant recipients and conducted a survey of nearly 1,000 organizations that identify as "by and for women and girls of color." The report found that many organizations had a revenue of less than $250,000, and those catering to a specific population subset — Black women or girls, for example — were more likely to have a budget under $50,000.

Given the necessary work that these groups do in their communities across the U.S., those figures are shockingly low. "Private philanthropy needs to hold itself accountable for what it says it wants to do," says Younger. "If it wants to make change in the world, then it needs to do that by investing in women and girls of color."

Though the Ms. Foundation's study focused on donations and gifts from private philanthropists, Younger emphasizes that even those with slightly shallower pockets can help. "What people always think is that you have to have a million dollars to have an impact, and that's just not so," she says. "Get 10 of your friends to each put together $1 [each month] for the whole year — you will then have given $120 to an organization. That's actually a wonderful way to support something that's going on. People just need to be creative about how they want to give and know that every single individual can have an impact."

And if giving on a small scale isn't an option, it's OK — there are plenty of other ways to support organizations you see making a difference in your community. "If you have an organization that you are interested in or that you've been working with, help promote their work," says Younger. "Whether that is through social media, or whether that is showing up when they’re asking for volunteers, that's what you can do."

You can read the full "Pocket Change" report here.