In the past year, the Black Lives Matter Foundation has grossed tens of millions, and the details of its financials have been released publicly for the first time.
According to AP, the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation raked in $42 million in net assets from July 2020 to June 2021, its last fiscal year. Current board members Cicley Gay, D’Zhane Parker, and Shalomyah Bowers said the foundation runs on a $4 million yearly budget.
The tax filing shared with AP comes as BLMGNF faces backlash for allegedly mishandling $90 million worth of donations, which were raised in the aftermath of George Floyd's murder. On its Form 990, the foundation reported the purchase of the decked-out, $6 million Los Angeles home at the center of the criticism.
BLMGNF board members said the "campus" is being used for its original, intended purpose as a haven for Black artists.
The form also shows that $32 million of the $90 million donations was invested into stock. Organizers said the investment was made to keep the foundation running in the future.
This is the first time BLMGNF is publicly sharing the details of its finances. The organization, previously a fledgling non-profit, wasn't required to disclose its accounting until it became an independent, 501(c)(3) non-profit in December 2020.
Based on the recent financial disclosure, some nonprofit experts told AP that the foundation is still running like a start-up, scrappy organization despite having an abundance of resources. According to experts, BLMGNF is seemingly lacking a proper governance structure, which makes it hard to disprove money mismanagement allegations.
Additionally, the foundation currently has no executive director or in-house staff.
Accounting professor Brian Mittendorf said, “It comes across as an early startup nonprofit, without substantial governance structure in place, that got a huge windfall."
“People are going to be quick to assume that mismatch reflects intent,” Mittendorf added. “Whether there’s anything improper here, that is another question. But whether they set themselves up for being criticized, I think that certainly is the case because they didn’t plug a bunch of those gaps.”
However, others say Black-owned and operated charities face unjust scrutiny in a space that is predominately run by wealthy white people.
The foundation’s tax filing reports that 70 percent of its funds, or $26 million, were granted to numerous BLM chapters and families in the last year, rebutting the claim that BLMGNF hasn't contributed to the overall cause.
Gay said, “We are decolonizing philanthropy. We, as a board, are charged with disrupting traditional standards of what grant-making in philanthropy looks like. It means investing in Black communities, trusting them with their dollars.”
According to AP, BLMGNF has pledged to launch a "transparency and accountability center” on its website to make its financials public.