Transparency Center - Black Lives Matter

Transparency Center

Welcome to the Black Lives Matter Transparency Center. We are embracing this moment as an opportunity for truth-telling, accountability, and healing. We aim to move forward into this next chapter heeding the lessons we have learned from both our achievements and missteps, and are renewing our commitment to justice and power building in service to our communities.

We understand our responsibility in this movement and we commit to building trust as we do our part to realize a future that sustains Black people for generations. BLM is transforming in pace with our communities as we all charter exciting new paths toward liberation.

The misinformation from the right wing about our finances is very much about what happens when Black people are financially autonomous from white supremacist structures like the non-profit industrial complex. There is a longstanding legacy of mistrust and doubt about how Black people spend their money, like Ronald Reagan’s “welfare queen” moniker, a racist trope he peddled to gain the power of the presidency.

The right has taken up this cause, hoping to sow mistrust in our work via their media outlets. They have spread misinformation and have taken what is really an important conversation for our community, trashed it, and used their coverage as some sort of validation of their racist allegations. We hope that this is the beginning of a real conversation for our people about the dynamics of our power and our relationship to money.

We will continue to unveil new initiatives designed to increase transparency and accountability, and will continue to disrupt what philanthropy looks like in service of Black people. BLM is working diligently to develop operational transparency across the foundation, including by tightening compliance procedures and expanding our board to help steer the organization to its next evolution.

FAQ

We understand there may be questions about how Black Lives Matter Foundation is funded. Our goal is transparency, faith, and collective clarity about the foundation’s commitment to investing in Black people and Black futures. Please read over our answers to the most frequently asked questions:

Why Does Black Lives Matter Need A Foundation?

Successful movements for liberation historically thrive when they possess direction, sustainable resources, scalability, and widespread societal support. In the context of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, the Foundation plays a crucial role in addressing potential deficiencies in these key areas, contributing significantly to the movement’s success.

In particular, the Foundation addresses a critical need for resources within the abolitionist space. By serving as a philanthropic institution that not only provides direct grant funding but also extends support through partnerships, technical assistance, proactive programming and advocacy, and development aid, the Foundation empowers radical change-makers and ensures their holistic needs are met. As the largest philanthropic force driving abolitionism globally, the BLM Foundation stands poised to channel resources towards building Black Power for Black Liberation, a significant and transformative objective.

Furthermore, the Foundation’s role in communications and narrative, both in digital and traditional realms, is pivotal. By safeguarding, sustaining, and cultivating the Black Lives Matter brand, the Foundation secures and enhances broad support—an indispensable element for achieving transformative change at scale. In the realm of movements, the power to directly enact change is limited; instead, movements serve as inspirational forces that influence external entities. The Foundation’s strategic communications interventions, coupled with massive frontline support, position Black Lives Matter as a formidable force that demands attention and consideration, drawing parallels to historical instances where influential figures external to movements played vital roles in implementing change.

In essence, the Foundation emerges as an opportunity and a blessing, a testament to the work of those who paved the way before us. Through its multifaceted contributions, the Foundation strengthens the movement’s infrastructure, ensuring it is well-equipped to navigate the complexities of societal transformation.

What does it mean to become a foundation?

It’s easy to think of foundations in the United States as the byproduct of the ultra-rich, but the oldest philanthropic organization in the colonial US was organized for the benefit of indentured servants. Long before that mutual aid served an untold number of generations, keeping neighbors fed, warm, safe from harm … even guiding them to freedom. 

In the last week of June 2013, the United States Supreme Court overturned the Voting Rights Act of 1965. According to them, the reasons the Black vote needed to be protected by law in 1965 bore “no logical relationship to the present day.” Eighteen days later, George Zimmerman was acquitted after he killed Trayvon Martin. Another eighteen days after that, an organizer wrote a Facebook post, her friend distilled the sentiment into a hashtag, and a third organizer joined the effort and set to work promoting a paradoxically subtle yet powerful call to action … Black Lives Matter. For over half a decade, Black Lives Matter stood to absorb the fear and anxiety surrounding race in the United States. After the murder of George Floyd, the conversations around police brutality, reparations, and systematic injustice Black people had been vocal about for years finally became mainstream. In a matter of months, there was an outpouring of financial support for the Black Lives Matter movement. 

At this moment, Black Lives Matter, the scrappy non-profit built from the ground up, had no choice but to become deeply introspective. How does an organization whose sole purpose is the critique of an exploitative white supremacist system operate within that system to contribute to a better existence for the Black community?

Evolving from an on the ground advocacy organization, into an organization that nurtured networks and invested in the future of the movement space was the most valuable contribution we could envision as stewards of this unprecedented moment. 

The Black Lives Matter Foundation operates as an abolitionist-centered foundation, utilizing a hybrid model to drive impactful change. Our approach involves funding organizations and individuals leading policy and abolitionist efforts, concurrently fostering action in alignment with our core Pillars. Additionally, we actively collaborate with organizations and individuals providing direct services that address the essential needs of Black communities.

Image that lists the 6 pillars: Policy, Healing Justice, Research & Education, Arts, Culture, and Frontline Organizing

Understanding the critical role of those most affected by the systems we aim to abolish, we recognize that true revolution resides in their hands. While our position as funders may distance us from daily on-the-ground organizing, our partnerships are designed to keep our work, language, and commitments informed, guided, and aligned by the experiences of the most vulnerable.

Recognizing the urgency of the human rights issues at hand, we consider it a moral imperative to direct resources toward organizations that generate tangible outcomes for ordinary Black individuals. Our commitment lies in funding organizations that embody urgency, embrace transformative approaches, and champion radical solutions to address the challenges facing Black communities.

What is BLM Foundation’s leadership model?

Black Lives Matter Foundation is an abolitionist-centered foundation. We know that the work and leadership of true revolution rests in the hands of those most impacted by the systems we are trying to abolish. Black Lives Matter practices a model of decentralized leadership to place focus on the Movement over a single figurehead. We are currently led by a three-person board that actively listens, engages, and supports the communities that Black Lives Matter dedicates its work to.

Learn more about our board here

Can you tell me more about the Black Lives Matter logo & brand?

Since its inception, this organization has maintained a consistent rule of thirds. Three founders came together under the banner of Black Lives Matter, a three-word name. The second iteration of the organization’s identity came to be accompanied by three yellow lines.

Image collage featuring the original founders of Black Lives Matter, old Black Lives Matter logo, and a black and white birds eye view image of people marching on the street

The organizational mission focuses explicitly on the past, the present, and the future. The Foundation nurtures justice, joy, and culture. 

In honor of our origins, the Foundation’s visual identity, like the Ella Baker model of decentralization in leadership, offers a decentralized visual identity system without a singular primary logo. Unlike a corporation, the idea is to forgo the meticulous control over the expression of our organization and instead to accept its multifaceted range of diversity and open its use and expression to the community. This Foundation was built on words, so we built our visual identity with words at the heart. Inspired by the street murals and protest signs of 2020, we’ve created a font in two styles, “Foundation” and “Joy” to share with you.

Collage that shows the BLM brand in use: as a logo, on a flag, and with images

The fact that the Black Lives Matter Foundation exists is an unequivocal reminder of the supremacist structures shaping the society we’ve inherited. We approach our identity as an organization dedicated to Black life. We recognize strife and animosity alongside joy and expression. We exist within the system we’ve inherited, but we will do everything in our power and with the opportunity and resources provided to enact policy change, invest in our communities, and commit ourselves to the advancement of Black arts and culture.

How do I know if I’m supporting the official Black Lives Matter Foundation?

We recommend that anyone wishing to donate to or support Black Lives Matter Foundation do so by going through the blacklivesmatter.com website and/or our official social media channels @Blklivesmatter. Donations can made directly by visiting our donation page here.

How much money does BLM Foundation currently have?

Please find BLMGNF’s current assets on our IRS 990 form, linked here.

What is an IRS 990 form?

An IRS 990 form, often referred to simply as “a 990,” is a document that some organizations are required to submit to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as part of their annual reporting. It is a document that provides the public with financial information about an organization and helps organizations stay in compliance with local, state, and federal laws.

What measures is BLM Foundation taking to increase transparency and accountability?

Despite past efforts, BLM Foundation recognizes that there is more work to do to increase transparency and ensure transitions in leadership are clear in the future. We are working overtime to deepen operations transparency, tighten compliance procedures, and build out a formal leadership infrastructure. This Transparency Center is an example of our efforts to increase public transparency.

Why was the Creator’s House purchased?

Black creativity is necessary and vital to Black survival. BLM has always held that tradition sacred, partnering with artists of every kind since our founding. The Creator’s House was purchased with the intention of providing housing and studio space for recipients of the Black Joy Creators Fellowship in service of Black culture and the movement.

The fellowship provides a nourishing space for Black folks to hone their crafts and share their gifts with the world. Black artists are often underfunded and under-resourced, impeding their abilities to create beyond the constraints of white supremacist structures. Particularly during the height of the pandemic, numerous art spaces were closed and financial programs cut, leaving a void in the creative community. BLM Foundation believes having a physical space for Black artists to collaborate, imagine, and experiment is an investment in the culture and our future.

What are the plans for the Creator’s House moving forward?

We will have more concrete plans for the Creator’s House once we have further developed our internal infrastructure and staff, but the plan remains to use the space for recipients of the Black Joy Creators Fellowship.

In early 2023, we excitedly welcomed our inaugural cohort of HBCU Ambassadors to collectively brainstorm on how best to ensure HBCU students would get access to Phase 2 of our Student Solidarity Fund and to hear their ideas, as creatives, on how we can continue developing programming for the Creator’s House.

What are BLM Foundation’s plans to further support victims of police brutality and their families?

In the first two years of incorporation, BLM Foundation invested nearly $30 million into the Black community, via:

  • Black-led frontline organizations
  • Foundations led by families who have been directly impacted by police brutality
  • Individual BLM chapters
  • Loan repayment micro-grants for Black alumni
  • COVID relief funding disbursed directly to Black people

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Our 990 Forms

A part of our commitment to transparency, we want to ensure the public is able to easily access important foundation documents. Please see the archive of all of our public 990 forms and audits:

Updates

On May 13, 2022, Black Lives Matter Foundation submitted its 990 with the Internal Revenue Service ahead of the federal deadline. BLM Foundation also submitted state charitable solicitation renewals to become compliant in all 50 states, positioning the organization to continue raising funds to support Black frontline organizations across the U.S. and around the world.

Learn About Our Vision