Insights from Organizations

Houston area Black-led organizations tell us they start up with very little support to meet complex needs that don’t fit neatly into boxes, and they struggle to become sustainable.

We recently surveyed 80

Houston area organizations and funders, in addition to conducting focus groups and interviews.

Surveyed organizations

“I have always sought to create programs that involve African Americans in Houston. I was born and raised in Houston and the well-being of African Americans in the city is always a part of my consciousness.”

“Sometimes I feel like I have 50,000 needs that my organization has to address on any given day, and we’re only getting funding for one of them.”

More than 90% of the organizations said they are fulfilling complex or challenging needs for their clients. This is consistent with what we hear from folks in Black-led organization.

Fulfilling complex needs bar chart

Graph: How Frequently do Black-led Houston area organizations surveyed serve complex and challenging needs in their community?

“I want to be resourced with buy-in with more thoughtful processes instead of reactionary changes and results. Less band aids and more root causes addressed.”

We heard Houston’s Black–led organizations describing similar struggle

Of the organizations we surveyed:


Fewer than 4% of our survey respondents were startup organizations (operating for >1 year). This didn’t surprise us because we are learning that there is a lack of funding for innovation and start-up funding for Black-led organizations.

“Grants opportunities are written that do not reflect them [smaller organizations] but the larger organizations. Certain things smaller organizations will not have.”

Start-up mode is also a very insecure place to be because they begin with little to no operational funding. Organizations with less than $50,000 in annual budget struggle to survive past 5 years.

Black-led organizations are faced to choose between remaining nimble and led by the needs of their community or focus on learning to play the funder game and jump through the right hoops.

“There needs to be opportunities for me for my skills to be put at the table and placed on the table as well or opportunities for me to build up my own table.”

“I need people to understand I [do this alone] and need people to execute because me executing is taking time away from something else.”

“Stakeholders [funders] are not connecting directly with Blacks to understand what resources they need and for themselves and their [initiatives].”

We asked Houston area Black-led organizations what they would do if they had 30% more in their budget.

Priorities for surveyed Black-led organizations, if they had more money:

General Enhancement/Capacity Increase

Professional Development

Staffing (more staff), Increased Wages, Offer (more/better) Beenfits


“Fund [Black-led organizations] in ways that create self- sufficiency, agency, autonomy and allow initiatives to create “a buffet of opportunities.”

“Resource in ways that allow Black bodies to rest.”

Furthermore, it can be hard to break through to funders, if you don’t already have connections to them. Black-led organizations may not have access to these “word-of-mouth” networks.

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)