Funders for Race Equality Alliance report: A quantitative analysis of the emergency funding to the UK Black and Minority Ethnic Voluntary Sector During Covid-19

Covid-19 and the Black Lives Matter led to an unprecedented shift in how we think about and fund race equality issues in the UK. The Funders for Race Equality Alliance, the Ubele Initiative and Future Foundations UK, has been reflecting on the changing funding landscape. As well as discussing the unprecedented increase in emergency funding targeted at the Black and Minority Ethnic VCS in the early stages of the pandemic.

The April 2021 report captures a snapshot of 2020 and analyses the amount and purpose of 34 emergency funds awarded to Black and Minority Ethnic organisations through different types of funding pots between March 2020 and November 2020. The analysis sought views from funders and stakeholders which helped to inform the analysis, identify learning and reflections and shape the recommendations.

Read the report (pdf).

The overall aim is to ensure that the much-needed increased support for race equality and Black and Minority Ethnic communities and civil society organisations is not temporary but becomes permanent and sustainable.

The Alliance commissioned this analysis of emergency funding to help UK funders:

  1. Identify their next steps in supporting the Black and Minority Ethnic voluntary sector
  2. Review and analyse their funding processes
  3. Enable more focused conversations about future funding strategies as the impact of the pandemic continues
  4. Identify infrastructure groups and networks which will enable them to reach communities they have not previously been in contact with
  5. Identify gaps in funding
  6. Support the sustainability of Black and Minority Ethnic civil society
  7. Understand the causes, consequences and impact of the unexpected shift in funding race equality.

Key findings

  • Many of the grants had to be spent before the end of March 2021 or approximately six to twelve months after they were made available. This puts organisations at risk of financial insecurity after this period.
  • 66% of funding went to London, followed by the North West which received 9% and then Yorkshire and the Humber and the West Midlands who received around 5% each. 2% went to Scotland, 1.6% went to Wales and Northern Ireland received the least at 1%.
  • Funders were responsive to the changing needs of the sector. The majority of funding (£25.36m) came from flexible funds, as many VSOs needed flexibility to react to the wide ranging issues caused by the pandemic.
  • Only 9 of the 34 funds supported work on human rights and justice. This lack of funder focus on tackling racism, discrimination and structural inequalities and injustice needs to be addressed.
  • The analysis found that although some funders traditionally focused on a specific area such as migration, gender or health, the consequences of the pandemic influenced funders to diversify their funds. This included a wider range of issues such as adaption (organisational changes to adapt to Covid-19), poverty and health.
  • Funders stressed the importance of sustaining long-term support for the sector through capacity building and leadership development. They expressed the desire to listen to and collaborate with the sector to advance the race equality agenda.


  • Funders need to look at renewing their funding with a longer-term lens, to extend across both the recovery phase of the pandemic and beyond. Funders also have a responsibility to redress the historic underinvestment in the Black and Minority Ethnic VCS and create generational funding opportunities to advance greater racial justice in the UK.
  • Funders need to continue to adapt funding approaches to be more accessible, flexible and enable more of a long-term focus on racial equality and justice within existing and new priorities. This can be done by: ring-fencing funds, providing additional pre-application support, pooled funds and re-granting through Black and Minority Ethnic intermediary organisations.
  • Collaboration and the use of participatory grantmaking has been highlighted in the analysis as an efficient way for larger funders to distribute funds quickly and efficiently. Funders must actively raise their own awareness of existing and emerging groups that are already doing valuable work.
  • Funders should complete the Alliance’s racial justice funding audit in order to identify if, and how much, of their UK funding is targeted at addressing the root causes of inequality or at alleviating the consequences. This will enable funders to analyse their portfolios and develop targets and strategies to ensure they are properly supporting racial justice work.

Read the report (pdf).

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