In the tragic and whirlwind year of 2020, with racial justice protests sparked by the killing of black men and women by police officers, the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation has raised $90 million, including a large part of small donations from grassroots supporters. of his cause. A recent tax return from the group shows that by the middle of last year more than half of that money had been given to local organizations or spent on consultants and real estate, leaving the foundation with $42 million in assets.
The foundation’s finances have come under criticism from both sides of the political spectrum. Many local groups that are part of the Black Lives Matter movement have called for more transparency and a bigger role in decision-making, as well as more money for activist-led organizations on the ground. At the same time, opponents of the larger cause have attempted to present the expenses of one of the group’s founders as evidence of widespread mismanagement in a way that seems intended to attack the cause as well as the group. .
“No one expected the foundation to grow at this pace and on this scale,” Cicley Gay, chairman of the board, said in a statement on Tuesday. “Now we are taking the time to build an effective infrastructure to run the largest black, abolitionist philanthropic organization that has ever existed in the United States.”
Last month, New York Magazine reported that funds raised by the foundation had been used to buy a house in California for nearly $6 million in cash in October 2020. The tax return shows property worth $5.9 million, owned by a Delaware corporation. Company credentials “are not published here due to safety and security concerns and threats to BLMGNF management, staff and creators,” the form states.
The release of Internal Revenue Service Form 990 for the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation was the first time the group offered an official accounting of its finances. It is also a delayed snapshot. The form covers the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2021, almost a year ago.
Much of the outside critical attention on the group has focused on Patrisse Cullors, one of the founders of Black Lives Matter. Ms Cullors stepped down as chief executive of the foundation in May 2021. In an interview with The Associated Press at the time, she denounced “right-wing attacks that tried to discredit my character”.
A family member, Paul Cullors, was listed on the tax form as receiving payment for “professional security services” in the amount of $840,993.
“I think they are doing what a lawyer in this situation would advise them to do, which is to be as open as possible and to be as specific as possible,” said Lloyd Hitoshi Mayer, a law professor at the university. of Notre Dame which specializes in non-profit organizations. “They try to be transparent. They are trying to right the ship. There is still work to do.
In 2021, the foundation published its own report, not a mandatory federal tax return but a voluntary accounting of his funds, in which he said he raised $90 million in 2020, with the average donation being $30.64. At that time, the group said it spent $8.4 million in operating expenses while disbursing $21.7 million in grants to approximately 30 organizations and 11 Black Lives Matter chapters across the country.
On the tax form, the foundation said that for the overlapping fiscal year, it received contributions and grants totaling $76.9 million, with total expenditures of $37.7 million. Those expenses included grants of $500,000 each to Black Lives Matter groups in Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit and elsewhere.