What We Measure Matters

2 min readSep 9, 2020
the cover of NCRP’s latest report, Black Funding Denied: Community Foundation Support for Black Communities.

In his most recent @NonProfit Chronicles column, Marc Gunther echoes some of the more common critiques of our most recent report, Black Funding Denied: Community Foundation Support for Black Communities.

To be fair, Marc includes a number of our responses in his piece, many of which can also be found in the report’s FAQ post. We appreciate that. However, he mischaracterizes the methodology NCRP used to generate the report, something that we would like to directly address.

According to Gunther, “NCRP counted grants coded with ‘people of African descent’ as the beneficiaries as investments in Black communities, but it did not count grants coded as ‘education,’ ‘health,’ or ‘human services.”

This is not true.

Any grant with the ‘people of African descent’ population code was included in our analysis, including many grants with the subject codes Gunther cites. In fact, our analysis also disaggregates Black population funding to show just how much the community foundations in question have devoted to funding for Black people that was for direct service-oriented programs around education, health, or human services as compared with how much funding has been devoted for structural change work.

Gunther reiterates later in his piece, “…NCRP excludes from its tally not just donations to the Y or the United Way, to food banks or homeless shelters, but to funding for schools or job training programs that are not explicitly race-based.”

The last clause is crucial. We did not exclude from our tally all grants to social service organizations like the Y or United Ways. Our screen includes any grants to organizations like these whenever those grants are described as being for the benefit of Black people, or if the recipient organizations in question are coded by Candid as having work primarily described for the benefit of Black communities.

So, let’s be clear: Local demographic information allows us to know that groups such as Martha’s Table or the Thurgood Marshall Charter School serve a majority Black population because of the community in which they operate. That’s a great starting point and one of the many reasons why we should be doing all that we can to ensure a successful 2020 U.S. Census.

What our report measured, however, was the level of funding for grants that specifically and intentionally targeted the Black Community — and GWCF didn’t code these as such. If they had, these grants would have been included in our report.

It’s an important distinction.

Visit our NCRP.org to read more about this report and the others ways that NCRP is challenging philanthropy to be more responsive to the communities they serve.




For 40 years, the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy has served as the country’s independent watchdog of foundations.