With extremist and hate groups on the rise in the US, corporate funders need to take more care to avoid funding them.
Propaganda and visibility for hate and extremist groups have increased over the past year, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Year in Hate and Extremism report. Relatedly, racially motivated hate crimes continue to rise. As these crimes and groups become more prevalent in the media and political and social divisions continue to grow in the US, companies will be compelled by their employees, shareholders, and stakeholders to be more transparent about who they are supporting. In fact, socially minded companies like Amalgamated Bank are leading the charge with their “Hate Is Not Charitable” campaign. They are calling out the millions of dollars of often anonymous funding that’s funneled, many times inadvertently, to hate groups.
As a nonprofit supporting diverse organizations and donors on our platform, GlobalGiving has learned how difficult it is to remain truly neutral. For companies that want to avoid funding hate and extremism with their philanthropic dollars, here are five questions and answers to consider:
1. What first steps should a corporate funder take?
Companies and foundations should first examine their own human resources or governance policies that may limit association with or support for organizations with discriminatory, violent, or harmful activity. For example, GlobalGiving has a Non-Discrimination Policy that governs both internal and external activities.
If such a policy does not exist, funders may want to develop one in partnership with employees and with guidance from government resources like the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or organizations like Southern Poverty Law Center. Once the company’s policies are known, a grantmaking partner can work with you to align the policy with a process for making decisions against it.
2. What should companies consider as they research potential funding partners?
When doing your own vetting or research on who to fund, we suggest that companies look beyond the organization’s own information (how it talks about itself in its annual report, website, etc.) Instead, cast a wide net in your research to include how the organization is viewed in the media, in public, on social media, by staff and peer organizations, and by marginalized communities. Most sources of information have a position or bias, so factor that in accordingly.
3. What if we unknowingly support a questionable organization?
As part of proactively preparing to address external risks, we recommend that companies develop a crisis mitigation plan. If, despite the company’s best efforts, funding allegedly or definitively goes toward unintended activities—such as hate and extremism—consider how your company would be positioned to react and respond. For example, at GlobalGiving, we have an investigation team and process. We also use our Ethos philosophy to respond to dilemmas in real-time, in a community-led way. In addition, a crisis response plan should include a crisis communications plan, which considers your key audiences to inform, including your board, employees, funding partners, and other external stakeholders.
4. How can partners like GlobalGiving support corporate funders who may want to assess for these considerations?
Vetting and due diligence can help ensure that the nonprofits you wish to fund meet local and international guidelines and your company’s needs. In addition to reviewing standard due diligence components, your team or grantmaking partner may also want to consider the legitimacy, reputation, and social impact of organizations—regardless of location or mission.
Look for a vetting partner that can tailor their vetting to help you align your funding with your values. Most companies want to ensure that funds aren’t used in a way that discriminates on the basis of race, political orientation, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, national origin, ethnicity, ancestry, marital status, veteran status, or mental or physical disability. By making your program goals and guidelines clear up front, your partner can make recommendations that will mitigate risk and ensure alignment.
Lastly, resources like our free Ethos How-To Guide can help you address dilemmas related to funding questionable groups. The toolkit, co-created by GlobalGiving’s peers and stakeholders, is publicly available for anyone to use.
5. What are some nonprofits working to address these issues?
Nonprofit organizations around the globe are doing important work every day to protect and support groups that are discriminated against. Consider Pathways to Safety International, which is supporting LGBTQIA+ victims of violence overseas. Another GlobalGiving partner, Fundación Interpretalab, is tackling online hate speech in Chile. The Council of Korean Americans is committed to stopping anti-Asian hate and supporting vulnerable members in their community.