How much money did Black Lives Matter receive last year? More than 60% of donations remained unused
The foundation said it had received more than $90M in donations in 2020. With $8.4M in expenses and $21.7M committed to local chapters, the group ended 2020 with 'an approximate balance of $60M'
Demonstrations across the US rallied under the slogan of "Black Lives Matter" after George Floyd's death in police custody in May 2020. As resources poured in to support the cause, from within the US and from across the world, one of the significant beneficiaries last year was the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation (BLMGN).
In its impact report released on February 24, the foundation said it had received more than $90 million in donations in 2020. This is the first time BLM has disclosed its finances in its nearly eight-year history. With $8.4 million in expenses and $21.7 million committed to local chapters, the group ended 2020 with “an approximate balance of $60 million,” BLM revealed in its report. “We are no longer a small, scrappy movement. We are an institution,” the foundation said in its statement. “We are entering spaces previously unimaginable.” However, as the organization's collections blew up as did its influence, cracks have started to show.
Feuds about 'lack of funding'
BLMGN's network of activists is split across 10 chapters or the #BLM10. This includes the ones in New Jersey and Hudson Valley, which split off in November 2020 from the parent organization. There has also been public brouhaha over differences, like co-founder the movement established in 2013, Patrisse Cullors, who was the sole board member of BLMGN, became Executive Director against the will of most chapters and without their knowledge.
The impact report also has pages devoted to the newly announced "BLM Grassroots", which the 10 BLM chapters have problems with. According to the 'Time for Accountability' statement put out by all 10 chapters, BLM Grassroots "does not have the support of and was created without consultation with the vast majority of chapters".
The statement added that "the formation of BLM Grassroots" effectively "interrupted the active process of accountability that was being established". They also said that according to their "experience, chapter organizers have been consistently prevented from establishing financial transparency, collective decision making, or collaboration on political analysis and vision within BLMGN".
In two of its main talking points, the #BLM10 stated that: "For years there has been an inquiry regarding the financial operations of BLMGN and no acceptable process of either public or internal transparency about the unknown millions of dollars donated to BLMGN, which has certainly increased during this time of pandemic and rebellion."
It added that: "To the best of our knowledge, most chapters have received little to no financial support from BLMGN since the launch in 2013. It was only in the last few months that selected chapters appear to have been invited to apply for a $500,000 grant created with resources generated because of the organizing labor of chapters. This is not the equity and financial accountability we deserve."
2020 was an 'uncommon' year
BLMGN co-founder Patrisse Cullors — the foundation’s executive director — has insisted that the financial boost in 2020 is very different from donations received in previous years, but did not reveal how much the foundation had received in previous years. “Because the BLM movement was larger than life — and it is larger than life — people made very huge assumptions about what our actual finances looked like,” Cullors told the press.“We were often scraping for money, and this year was the first year where we were resourced in the way we deserved to be.” However, most of the $90 million donations received remain unspent -- approximately $60 million remains unspent.
The Economist had estimated that between May 2020 and December 2020, donations to Black Lives Matter-related causes amounted to $10.6 billion. A sizeable portion of this went to BLMGN.
Origins of the foundation
In 2013, Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi formed the Black Lives Matter Network. Garza described the network as an online platform that existed to provide activists with a shared set of principles and goals. Local Black Lives Matter chapters are asked to commit to the organization's list of guiding principles but operate without a central structure or hierarchy. Garza has commented that the network was not interested in "policing who is and who is not part of the movement."
A global organization spread across the US, UK and Canada, it has a "mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes". It aims at "combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy".