By Dami Solebo
The last few years have been difficult for a number of charitable groups. Donations and contributions have reduced significantly at a time when the work of many organisations is all the more necessary. In many cases, the groups that are more deeply impacted are the charities that aim to support minority groups. Specialist groups that challenge social constructs and attempt to help people with particular difficulties are important, because in times of austerity the people on the fringes are affected more significantly. The challenge in this area is discovering methods to reduce this difference so that certain groups have greater opportunities. I will be speaking predominantly about BAME organisations.
In many cases, these charities are relatively new institutions. Terms such as institutional racism and multiculturalism are relatively embryonic with respect to policy. Consequently, organisations focused on breaking stereotypes and creating positive impacts may not have the same history as other third sector groups with more mainstream considerations. A number of charities have faced considerable challenges in recent years forcing them to restructure or in some cases close operations. It becomes more difficult to reach channels of support when the recipients of support are considered to be further away from traditional areas.
According to the Voice4Change document “Bridging the gap in funding for the BAME voluntary and community sector” the average annual income of BAME charities is £78,960 as opposed to an overall average of £142,439. This disparity can in part be explained by the differing nature of BAME charities which operate as reduced, nimble groups with smaller staffs and more concentrated targets. But a more worrying reason for the inequality is a digression between the goals of mainstream funders and the charities focused on ethnic minorities. In some instances, the “mainstreaming” of grants can act as a deterrent, making prospective applications seem unviable when compared with groups with more recognisable goals and ideology. Coupled with the arduous application process (both in terms of bureaucracy and time consumption) and comparatively weak links between traditional funders and BAME organisations, the barriers to entry seem immense.
In Stuart Hall’s critique of the progress of multiculturalism, he highlighted that one of the great challenges is considering that equality is important, but so is an appreciation of the aspects of people’s culture and history which make them different. This is a sector with similar difficulties. The level of research and analysis in the BAME charitable sector is comparatively low, especially with respect to the impact of austerity on charities. But a greater degree of work is necessary for these charities in order to operate. Deeper relationships need to be developed with funders, the aspects of delivery and impact have to be more clearly defined and the initial mindset preventing applications in the first place has to change.
Dami joined TSIC in 2017 after working with charities with a Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) focus. He was responsible for a number of successful grants supporting projects focused on developing leadership programmes, offering skills and redemptive training to people with criminal records and breaking down barriers between people in the community and the police in Trident boroughs. Dami has consulted for youth focused groups and supported organisations making the transition to becoming recognised charitable organisations as well as being responsible for the formation and delivery of programmes. Prior to this, Dami worked with organisations in the finance and online betting industry in addition to writing roles for international publications including an African media-tech platform. Dami has a Master’s Degree in Finance and Development from the School of Oriental and African Studies in addition to a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and History from The University of Bristol.