Foundation capital

The organizational restructuring of Black Lives Matter: BLM Global Network Foundation

This is part two of a two-part series on the organizational restructuring of Black Lives Matter. Read the first part here.

The year 2020 has seen even more dramatic changes within the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation (BLM Global Network Foundation). The organization underwent a leadership change and experienced internal turmoil related to its chapter structure. She created two new affiliated entities, changed fiscal sponsors, and had to decide what to do with the tens of millions of dollars in donations and grants she suddenly had.

Leadership Changes and Chapter Unrest

Generally considered the preeminent national organization associated with the Black Lives Matter movement, the BLM Global Network Foundation operates the website and claims the movement’s three widely recognized co-founders – Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi – as its own. . Garza and Tometi are no longer directly involved in the organization’s operations, but they remain connected to the broader Black Lives Matter movement in other capacities.

Cullors, however, assumed a central leadership role in the second half of 2020. She “assumed the role of executive director” in July, an act that was seen by some as a “reprimand of her ‘leadership’ structure, which gave every member a say and prevented anyone, including a founder, from going overboard. The move was later heavily criticized by 10 local Black Lives Matter chapters, who wrote in a joint public statement “It’s time for accountability” that “Patrisse Cullors, as the sole board member of BLMGN , became executive director against the wishes of most chapters. and without their knowledge.

Determining exactly how many local chapters there are and who they are is rather difficult. Internet Archive’s WayBack Machine screenshots indicate that there were 16 chapters as of February 2020: 15 in the United States and one in Canada. As of August, there were 17 chapters: 14 in the United States and three in Canada. The “Chapters” page was apparently taken down in September. Ten chapters signed the “Time for Accountability” statement in December, but only four of them were listed as official chapters in August. According to a 2020 Impact Report released in early 2021, 11 Chapters received funding from the BLM Global Network Foundation in 2020, but some of them “no longer are. . . in our official network. Five chapter reports have been included in this 2020 Impact Report, with the anticipation that “dozens more” will be available in the years to come.

New Organizational Affiliates

This all ties into a major reorganization undertaken by the BLM Global Network Foundation in the second half of 2020. After deciding “to fully rely on its ability as a fundraising organization, granting entity, amplifier and action-oriented think tank of the movement,” the BLM Global Network Foundation has created two new organizations: Black Lives Matter Grassroots and Black Lives Matter PAC.

Black Lives Matter Grassroots is intended to function as the assemblage of official Black Lives Matter chapters, which will focus on “grassroots grassroots work”. It has been referred to as the “activist arm” of the BLM Global Network Foundation, having been created “to support the organizational needs of chapters”. This new structure was, however, very controversial in some chapters. In their joint statement “Time for Accountability,” 10 Chapters asserted that Black Lives Matter Grassroots “does not have the support of and was created without consultation with the vast majority of Chapters” and that “[its formation] effectively separated the majority of the chapters from [BLM Global Network Foundation] without their consent. »

Black Lives Matter PAC was publicly announced in October 2020, reflecting the recognition that “transforming the world requires both protest and politics”. In partnership with the left-leaning Working Families Party, it contacted 5.4 million voters in eight states in the 2020 general election. It says 44 of its endorsed candidates and measures were successful, including representatives Americans Cori Bush (D-MO), Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) and Nikema Williams (D-GA). Black Lives Matter PAC also ran in the 2021 US Senate election runoff in Georgia in favor of Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, who both won.

Structural changes and finances

The BLM Global Network Foundation began 2020 as a fiscally sponsored project of Thousand Currents, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that had served as a sponsor since 2016. But as CRC first reported in July, that sponsorship moved to the Tides Center, part of a group of related center-left nonprofits that had combined 2019 revenues of over $800 million. Even more interesting, perhaps, is an Associated Press report from February 2021 revealing that the BLM Global Network Foundation had obtained its own tax-exempt status from the IRS in December 2020. This means that at the future, she will have to file Form 990 returns with theirs.

These statements will provide considerable detail about the organization’s finances. But for now, the most comprehensive budget table available comes from its recently released 2020 Impact Report. According to this report, he raised approximately $90 million in 2020 “in our entities and partners”, incurred $8.4 million in operating expenses (this includes those of the BLM Global Network Foundation and Black Lives Matter Grassroots ) and paid out $21.7 million in grants. Black Lives Matter PAC raised $1.05 million from October to year-end and spent $746,000 in Georgia’s general election and runoff.

In addition to these key numbers, the report’s most notable financial revelations concerned the organizations to which the BLM Global Network Foundation has awarded grants. Eleven local chapters received funding in 2020, alongside 30 other groups who each received “a six-figure grant”. The grants appear to have prioritized sexual orientation and gender identity: “Of the 30 organizations selected, 23 are led by Black LGBTQIA people and/or directly serve these communities.” A full list of grant recipients can be found on the InfluenceWatch profile.

As with the Movement for Black Lives, complete data on the foundations and other nonprofits that gave to the BLM Global Network Foundation in 2020 will not be available until those organizations file their respective IRS Forms 990. for that year – and only to the extent that they identify those grants (technically given to the fiscal sponsor) as having been so designated. As 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, neither the BLM Global Network Foundation nor its fiscal sponsors are required to publicly reveal the identities of their donors, and the 2020 Impact Report does not disclose this information voluntarily. It says the average donation “through our main fundraising platform” in 2020 was $30.64.

A much more powerful movement

The Black Lives Matter movement ended 2020 a much stronger force than it started the year. Its new socio-political influence is best reflected in the huge sums of money that organizations associated with the movement have received during the year, primarily the BLM Global Network Foundation.

Black Lives Matter is almost certain to continue to play a major role in American politics, especially within the Democratic Party and on the left more broadly. Therefore, it will become increasingly important to understand how the main entities associated with the movement are organised, who leads them and (where possible) their donors and financiers. Hopefully this will help avoid a repeat of the significant public confusion that has plagued the movement and its observers in the past.

Read the first part of this series here.