The case for culturally nuanced funders

In many cases, the issues facing Black people and Black communities are unique and nuanced and require culturally sensitive solutions. Yet, too often, the organisations making an additional effort to provide these nuanced solutions find themselves at a loss when seeking funding from traditional funding bodies. This is not only because of the endless loops they're made to jump through (which we do away with at Kwanda) but also because these traditional funding bodies don't get what the organisations are doing and why it's important.

We often use the following analogy when speaking to those seeking funding from Kwanda:

Imagine a series of workshops where Black fathers are taught to braid their daughter's hair as a form of bond building. Now imagine explaining to a panel of funding institutions why that may have a more profound impact on the broader community than a series of diversity training workshops for corporations. It's hard to imagine they'd see the value.

At Kwanda, we will fill that gap created for organisations and individuals seeking funding to do culturally sensitive work. We want to fund those who want to 'Just do the work' and do the right type of work.

One of the reasons we decided to build a fundraising model based on collective contribution is that we couldn't stand the hoops you're made to jump through when dealing with traditional funding institutions. So we got rid of those hoops in our funding process and have yet to see any reason to add them back in.

Our funding process at Kwanda

First contact

Unlike most funders, we typically are the ones to reach out to organisations and individuals with a shared vision for the betterment of Black communities - rather than the other way around. Because of this, we can do our due diligence beforehand and typically get co-signs from the very communities these organisations impact.

Face-to-face call

We aim to form natural and long-term relationships with everyone we fund. We don't tend to operate on a one-time model of funding; as such, most organisations we provide funding to become long-term impact partners. We kick these relationships off with an introductory video call, where we learn more about our potential partner's story, team and vision for the future.

Starting with a small amount of funding

Once we feel confident that the fundee would make a great impact partner, we suggest a small pilot initiative and amount of funding that will enable both parties to jump into a working relationship and test the waters. The funding amount ranges from £500 - £1000, which can be used to attempt an entirely new initiative or support an existing one, e.g. "cover the cost of 5 more women in your coding boot camp". 

Publishing a proposal to our donors

Collective funding means collective decision-making. That means once we settle on an idea for a pilot initiative, the potential impact partner is sent an intake form which allows them to describe the following:

  • Context and why the initiative is important.

  • What the initiative is and how it will be executed.

  • What the impact of this work will be on individuals or a wider community.

We'd then draft a proposal based on this information which our members will vote on. Voting takes a week, and 50% or more members must vote yes for the proposal to pass.

Signing agreement

If the proposal is passed, the next step would be to sign a grant agreement, which outlines the terms of our grant and the purpose of the grant. Here is a sample of our grant agreement.

Wiring the funds

Once the agreement is signed, we typically wire the grant funds within a couple of hours. However, if the initiative start date is off into the future, we will earmark the grant and wire the funds closer to the date of execution. This means the recipient can plan and be assured we'll fund the initiative as promised, but if they cannot move forward for any reason, we'll nullify the agreement.

Impact reporting

I'm sure you know by now that we do things differently. It's the same with impact reporting. We avoid clunky one-time impact reports typically requested by funding institutions and opt for more natural and regular communication from partners. Our members want to be as close as possible to the impact so ask partners to send us short updates, long updates, images, quotes, good news and bad news. 

Once the initiative commences, a member of the Kwanda team is assigned to keep an open line of communication with the team executing the work and check in every now and then for updates.

Thanks for reading

We're constantly refining our process to serve both our members and partners, but it's certainly been well received so far.

We hope other funders follow suit and create inclusive and culturally nuanced funding processes. Feel free to copy ours!

If you want to join our collective fund and become a funder, please consider joining Kwanda.