Just 1% of Grants Go To Immigrants, Refugee Causes
Just 1% of Grants Go To Immigrants, Refugee Causes

Even though immigrants and refugees represent 14 percent of the population, local foundations gave barely 1 percent of total grantmaking to benefit those communities in 2017 and 2018. A new tool from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) can provide a state-by-state breakdown, drilling down to find highs and lows across the nation.

“Won’t You Be My Neighbor: The State of Local Funding for U.S. Immigrants and Refugees” is the latest research brief and data dashboard from the Washington, D.C.-based NCRP. The interactive open source tool analyzes publicly available data from 2012 to 2018, providing a snapshot of local grantmaking to immigrant and refugee serving organizations in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. The site details the funding share received by pro-immigrant, pro-refugee movement groups engaged in state-based advocacy campaigns, civic engagement, community organizing and grassroots leadership development.

Less than 0.5 percent of local funding is for pro-immigrant, pro-refugee movement groups engaged in organizing and advocacy. More than 50 percent of the largest local grantmakers of each state didn’t fund one of these groups.

The first Movement Investment Project brief, “The State of Foundation Funding for the Pro-Immigrant Movement” released last year, found that barely 1 percent of funding from the largest foundations in the country went to organizations serving immigrants and refugees, with national networks and grassroots groups “particularly underfunded.” This year’s report provides a state-by-state breakdown on those national figures.

The yearly average of local foundation grantmaking has increased during the Trump era, from $226 million in 2012-16 to $304 million between 2017 and 2018. The annual average of local funding for pro-immigrant, pro-refugee movement groups also rose from $42 million to $116 million during the same period.

Among a sample of 530 of the largest state-based grantmakers, 254 across 49 states — almost 48 percent — gave at least one grant to organizations serving this population in 2017-2018. Slightly more than half of the 254 funders (132 across 35 states) gave at least one grant to movement groups involved in organizing and advocacy.

Foundations in 14 states gave more than 1 percent of total funding to benefit the immigrant and refugee population.

At least 50 percent of the sample of top local funders across 26 states financially supported immigrant and refugee servicing organizations. In Illinois, Massachusetts and Minnesota, 90 percent of their state’s largest local funders dispersed funds to these nonprofits. More than a quarter of foundations in the sample — 157 funders across 47 states, or 30 percent — matched or exceeded their state’s aggregate share of funding for organizations’ benefiting immigrant and refugee communities.

Despite these increases, the amount invested in local immigrant and refugee communities in 2017-18 continues to be disproportionate to the population and the three. Of all local foundation dollars given out, only 1 percent went to servicing organizations and 0.4 percent to movement organizing.

Foundations in 14 states (less than a third of states) met or exceeded the 1 percent threshold for local funding and eight states matched or exceeded the 0.4 percent for movement organizing. A little more than half (271) of the foundations in the sample of the largest funders in all locations didn’t give anything to nonprofits serving immigrant and refugee populations or movement groups engaged in pro-immigrant, pro-refugee organizing and advocacy.

“Foundations can rise to meet the challenge of the current moment by funding these communities and this movement at levels proportional to the threats they face and their share of the state population,” according to the NCRP report. “No matter a foundation’s focus or geography, a robust movement that supports the rights of this community is critical to securing safety and well-being for all.”