Funding Focus: support by and for BAME-led organisations and causes

The recent Black Lives Matter protests have brought systematic racism to the forefront of political discourse again, at a time when it’s estimated that BAME people in the UK are between 10 and 50% more likely to die from Covid-19 than white people.

The role of philanthropy and grantmakers in combatting racism and other inequality – or conversely even perpetuating these problems – has also come sharply into focus, with the #CharitySoWhite campaign publishing an open letter calling for funders to ringfence 20% of funding for BAME-led orgs supporting BAME communities.

Research from the Ubele Initiative has estimated that without a sharp injection of additional funds, 9/10 BAME-led charities could fold as a result of the Coronavirus crisis. This is based on an analysis that found that 9/10 BAME-led charities have less than three months of reserves in the bank, meaning they risk closure if the crisis continues for longer than three months.

At DSC our research into Covid-19 response funding has brought us into contact with innovative and boundary pushing funders that are challenging how the funding sector responds to crises. We’ve composed a brief list of some of the most interesting, inspiring and useful sources of financial and in-kind support from BAME-funders and organisations for groups and individuals in the BAME-community, as well as some responses from funders who have adapted programmes to meet these needs.

Resourcing Racial Justice

Resourcing Racial Justice is a coalition of people of colour who are dedicated to social change and have created a new fund to support individuals and groups who are working towards racial justice in their communities. Applicants can apply to the fund for grants of between £5,000 and £50,000

Formed in response to Covid-19 to minimise the racial disparities in the Covid-19 response from mainstream funding responses, Resourcing Racial Justice is committed to social and economic justice.


Kwanda is an innovative not-for-profit organisation using a “village” model to support projects and partnerships with charities and other non-profits in the Black community. A non-profit still in its infancy – Kwanda was incorporated in December 2019 – the organisation is already achieving some of its objects by funding projects in Nigeria and London and has adapted very quickly to the Coronavirus lockdown by partnering with Afrotech Fest to fund a project donating money for technological devices to families from the African and Caribbean diaspora in London.

Individuals can join the village by contributing a minimum of £1 a month which buys them voting rights on which projects the village will support. Villagers can suggest partnerships to fund which will be voted on by others in their village via the app Slack. To get your project funded by Kwanda you need to first become a villager and propose your idea to the other villagers.

Current partnerships held with Kwanda include one with Nigeria Youth Corps to provide food support for 250 homes in southern Nigeria, and another in South East London for digital group therapy for Black people. Previously the villagers have provided two hours of free professional recording time to five Black-centric podcasts.

Kwanda is currently seeking partnerships with organisations working in West Africa to expand the projects they are able to support there.

Comic Relief

Comic Relief and the National Emergencies Trust have teamed up to provide a new fund of £3.4 million to support BAME-focused projects across the UK. 10 BAME-led organisations will receive amounts between £275,00 and £440,000 to distribute to projects based on their own funding criteria. Applicants can apply directly to these organisations – which include ImKaan, Next Step Initiative, and BAWSO – for funding from mid-July.

Afrotech Fest

Afrotech Fest is a tech festival by and for Black people of African and Caribbean heritage that aims to address the underrepresentation of Black people in the tech industry by making it more accessible. During the Coronavirus pandemic, Afrotech Fest has partnered with Kwanda to create a digital grants initiative to help families get and stay connected during the crisis by providing funds that can pay for devices or WiFi and phone bills.


Lendoe is a specialist lender. Formed in 2016 it is the first lender to focus on Black and ethnic minority entrepreneurs, often in the early stage of their businesses. Lendoe offers sustainable loans to people who may not have a high enough credit score to receive loans from high street lenders, with a focus on underrepresented groups of entrepreneurs such as women, migrants, and BAME populations.

Girl Dreamer

GirlDreamer provides opportunities for millennial and generation Z women of colour, either through its own organisation or through partnerships with others. A non-profit with an exec team entirely made up of women of colour under thirty, they really embody the change they want to see in the world. Previously during the Coronavirus crisis, they were providing emergency grants to organisations and community groups led by women of colour age 18-35. GirlDreamer also works with companies to help them become more societally reflective and authentic.

Brighton QTIPoC Narratives

Now to a micro organisation responding to the Coronavirus pandemic by providing vital assistance directly to individuals, Brighton QTIPoC Narratives. Brighton QTIPoC Narratives have collaborated with The Clare Project to provide £25 food vouchers to eligible individuals. Applicants must live in Brighton or Hove and be queer, trans or intersex and a person of colour; or queer, or trans. We love to see how small organisations are nimbly adapting to the Coronavirus situation to support their communities – forming partnerships to increase the amount of support organisations can give is a good way of doing this.

Charities will face an estimated £12.4bn shortfall this year and BAME led charities are likely to suffer disproportionately. We at DSC add our support to those calling for better funding provision for this vibrant and vital group of organisations.