Black organizations receive as little as 7 cents for every $100 donated to Canada's big charities, study finds

First-of-its kind study finds country's philanthropic sector has 'failed' Black communities

Posted: December 02, 2020
Last Updated: December 03, 2020

Camesha Cox, founder of the non-profit literacy organization The Reading Partnership for Parents, has seen the effects the lack of funding for Black charities firsthand. (CBC)

For every 100 dollars donated to a charitable organization in Canada, as little as seven cents go toward supporting Black charities, concludes a new first-of-its kind study of the country's philanthropic sector and its impact on Black communities.

The report by the Network for the Advancement of Black Communities and Carleton University's Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership program found Black charities are significantly underfunded in Canada. The researchers say the country's philanthropic sector has "failed" to meet the needs of Black people in Canada. 

Camesha Cox, founder of the non-profit literacy organization The Reading Partnership for Parents, has seen the effects of that lack of funding first hand.


The organization, based in Scarborough, works to give moms and dads the skills to help teach their children to read, with a specific program geared toward Black parents. 

"Black children are disproportionately represented in the number of kids that are struggling to meet provincial standards for reading in this community," Cox told CBC News.

'No clear commitment from any funder'

But while the organization has existed for nine years, Cox still regularly struggles to secure funding. 

"I cannot plan past March 2021 right now because we have no clear commitment from any funder," she said.

WATCH | New study shows Black charities are significantly under funded in Canada

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New research done by the Foundation for Black Communities found that for every $100 given to an organization, only 7¢ to 30¢ ends up going to Black charities.  2:10


It's a reality facing many Black community organizations, not only in Toronto, but across the country, according to the study, which is titled Unfunded: Black Communities are Overlooked by Canadian Philanthropy.

The study examined data from the funding portfolios of 40 public, private and community foundations for the years 2017 and 2018. 

The researchers found just seven to 30 cents for every 100 dollars donated to 40 of the leading foundations in Canada end up helping Black charities. On top of that, 63 per cent of the Black community organizations that were respondents in the study said they will run out of funding in less than six months. 

Philanthropy 'quite white,' study author says

"Over the last decade as the leader of a Black organization myself, we've witnessed countless Black-led organizations shut their doors, said Liban Abokor, one of the study authors and the executive director of the non-profit organization Youth LEAPS. 

"And this trend doesn't seem to be letting up anytime soon."


Liban Abokor is one of the study authors and executive director of the non-profit organization Youth LEAPS.  (Submitted by Liban Abokor)

"Philanthropy really is quite white from staffing to executive leadership to the board. When you ask yourself how do the funding decisions reflect the make up of the landscape, you shouldn't be surprised that Black communities have been excluded," he said. 

The report recommends the creation of a Foundation for Black Communities, which it says would be Canada's first Black-led, Black-focused philanthropic foundation. The foundation, based on a Black-led model of community philanthropy, is one possible solution for the lack of investment, it says.

Additionally, it says, given the wide-ranging impacts of COVID-19, the federal government must put in place specific supports to assist with the recovery of Black Canadians in particular.

The federal government has taken steps in this direction, the report says, including creating a capital grant program to help non-profits retro-fit their spaces and buy much-needed equipment and the $221 million Black Business and Entrepreneurship program. 

The report also says large charities need to diversify their boards and actively include Black communities and their needs in their mandate. 


For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.


With files from Natalie Nanowski