Having raised $90m in 2020 and ending the year with a fiscal balance of $60m, Black Lives Matter spent the majority of their funding supporting transgender advocacy groups. $21.7m was donated to thirty charities supporting black communities, twenty-three of which were black transgender advocacy groups, supporting black trans people with food, housing, and anti-discrimination work among other activities. There was a particular focus on charities supporting black trans women only, with five of those charities offering services only to trans women. Only one of the charities, Brooklyn Boihood, focused solely on trans men.
Despite being founded as an organization focused on ending discrimination against black people in policing and criminal justice, BLM only spent $8.4m on its primary endeavors, the Black Lives Matter Global Network, BLM Grassroots, and the BLM Political Action Committee. This represents just 30% of the organization’s spending. Some of that money was spent on standard operational costs not directly related to its political and community activites. Local chapters of BLM have criticized the organization for failing to fund them and for lacking transparency in its allocation of resources. Some of these chapters are no longer officially affiliated with BLM, though they continue to receive funding from the organization. Local chapters were also critical of the organization’s lack of accountability and their failure to consult its members when making major decisions. In response to this criticism, BLM has, for the first time, publicized the details of its finances and appears to be committing to using its resources for more practical and grassroots purposes.
BLM has committed $3m of its $60m cash reserves to a Covid-19 “Survival Fund” available exclusively to black Americans. Black Americans struggling to make ends meet can apply for a $1000 micro-grant, which will be granted to those deemed most in need. Special priority will be given to members of the trans community, single parents or guardians, formerly incarcerated people, families of incarcerated people, and families of those who have died at the hands of the police. Up to 3,000 Black Americans will receive these grants directly into their banks accounts or on pre-paid debit cards.
Two of BLM’s founders, Alicia Garza and Patrisse Cullors, identify as “queer”, so it is not surprising that their organization would focus so many resources on LGBTQ causes. However, those who donate to BLM in response to police killings, such as those of George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks, may question why their money is not being spent on ending police discrimination and police brutality.