Insights from Funders
We surveyed funders who support Black-led organizations in the Greater Houston area with the intent to share insight into current philanthropic practices and funding processes, as well as recommendations to better support Black-led organizations, and to share guidance on how to navigate within Houston philanthropy.
Here is a breakdown of our [total of 10] survey respondents:
Type of Foundation
Funding in Greater Houston
What are funders investing in?
Issue Areas – Top 5
3. Arts and Culture
4. Community and Economic Development
80% of respondents track nonprofit leadership demographics, but the ‘how’ varies
What data is being tracked?
– Leadership and staff levels were most common breakdowns
– Also common to ask for demographic data of clients
All respondents make lists of previous year’s grant awardees publicly available, followed by 78% providing clear funding guidelines on their website.
60% of respondents accept unsolicited applications but most funders rely on word of mouth and networking to identify new potential grantees.
How the funders we surveyed find organizations to support:
Other responses: included subject matter experts, community news, conferences, resource guides (e.g., GHCF Giving Guide of Houston Black-led Organizations)
70% of respondents use financial health indicators
What are funders looking at?
- Surplus/deficits (historical)
- Diversity of funding streams
- Liquidity/cash reserves
- Board giving
- Existence of internal/external
Those that don’t use financial health indicators are still reviewing provided financials, budgets, and 990s.
■ Budget maximum limit
■ Limits on the percentage of an organizational budget a funder will fund
■ Preference for a minimum of 1-2 paid staff
■ Preference for more established organizations
■ Board giving as indicator of financial health
■ Overhead limited to 10-20%
What kind of grants are funders surveyed providing?
Type of Grant
Median Grant Size
Where are there opportunities?
The majority of respondents introduce up to 25% new grant partners into their portfolios each year.
88% of Houston area funders we surveyed reported an increase in their level of funding to Black-led organizations since the onset of pandemic.
Since the pandemic, General Operating Support has increased but Multi-Year Grants have remained the same. Looking forward, respondents expect that General Operating Support will remain the same (40%) or increase (30%) while Multi-Year Grants will increase (40%).
Although the majority (60%) of survey respondents rely primarily on word of mouth to identify new potential grantees, 44% host info sessions for applicants; 55% mentioned being accessible/reachable via phone/email for a pre-conversation and answering questions or providing FAQs.
Some funders surveyed mentioned using practices in their programming to help them better hear from community voices. These include:
Funders are increasingly getting equity training
- Almost all respondents (90%) have undergone informal equity training, such as staff-led initiatives
- Only 40% of respondents have undergone formal equity training, such as through a thrid-party consultant/trainer
- 30% of resondents have undergone both formal and informal equity training