In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic and the resurgence of Black Lives Matter brought to the fore the inequity that blights our society. In this moment of reckoning, communities facing the harshest injustices took the lead. Their passion and protest forced us to sit up and listen.
Funders promised to respond by diverting more and better money to the grassroots movements tackling the root causes of injustice. Historic and present evidence made it clear that this is the only route to win the deep, systemic change our current crises require.
In commissioning Funding Justice 2, we were keen to understand whether this shift in funder discourse represented a shift in funder practice.
Funding Justice 2 repeats much of the analysis in Funding Justice 1, published last year, but we have looked at giving in 2021/2022 that took place immediately after this crucial moment.
We have also looked at a much wider range of grants and funders and tried to bring greater depth to the question of where social justice grantmaking goes.
Funding Justice 2 analysed over £950 million worth of grants. It found that just:
This is despite growing recognition that “community organising and local power building is simultaneously one of the best and one of the most under-resourced mechanisms we have to shift power to and secure just outcomes for (and with) communities”.
When looking in detail at these grants, Funding Justice 2 found that the dominant share of social justice funding in 2021/22 was focused on “the final stages of social transformation… rather than the movements that make these changes possible to begin with”.
Nearly a third of social justice grants in the UK went towards service delivery. This work delivers much needed care to communities, but it does not go further in agitating for systemic change.
Another 37% went to ‘inside game’ work in elite settings. This is work aimed at decision-makers, but it often excludes the very communities both facing injustice and fighting to end it.
By contrast, less than 10% of social justice funding is going towards ‘outside game’ activities that excluded communities rely on to be heard.
Nearly two thirds of social justice grants in the UK are focused on work carried out at the national level.
Of sub-national work, London receives by far the most funding on a per capita basis, with £407 of grants per 100 people. By contrast, five English regions are receiving less than £1 per person in social justice grant funding.
Globally, poverty, conflict, political unrest and the effects of climate change continue to intensify. Nationally, our communities are facing greater deprivation, inequality, democratic decline, and the increasing failure of public services.
These entrenched crises are felt most keenly by marginalised and minoritised communities, and the people and organisations working on the frontline to help them.
Against this backdrop, ameliorative action alone is simply not sufficient in supporting communities and tackling the injustices they face.
While vital and promising debates are happening in UK philanthropy, Funding Justice 2 shows that we still have a long way to go to ensure these debates translate into shifts felt by communities on the frontlines.
It suggests a framework for funders agitated by injustice to analyse their giving. And it provides both the evidence and impetus for funders to work together to direct their resources to transformative action they claim to seek.
Finally, while Funding Justice 2 looks at the quantity of funding, it doesn’t touch on the quality of this funding.
Elsewhere, we have looked in detail at the structural barriers relating to length and flexibility of grant funding; application processes; and impact measurement that stand in the way of social justice action.