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The Nonprofit Scam

You can’t spell nonprofit without White Saviorism. Okay you can but I don’t think many people know that. One of the first recorded nonprofits in America was The Peabody Education Fund, founded in 1867 with the purpose of integrating poor white and formerly enslaved people in the south.

K watches Melinda Gates promote her foundation The Goalkeepers and finds more about it on the website.

K watches Melinda Gates promote her foundation The Goalkeepers and finds more about it on the website.

During my workout at a gym whose cost of $10/month still had me hesitant in enrolling, CBS Morning News had Melinda French Gates on to talk about GoalKeepers, a foundation by Bill and Melinda Gates that hopes “to achieve a better world by 2030.” I want to comment about how out of touch they are for naming this foundation “The Goalkeepers” but what I really want to highlight is the ambiguity around the foundation. It’s a lot of buzzwords and while the website noted “sustainability” and “diversity”, Melinda spoke on “maternal deaths in childbirth” during her interview. They also made damn sure to have as many people who look nothing like the founders plastered on every single page of the website.

I’ve worked in several nonprofits and I’ve had so many absolutely traumatic experiences. The last nonprofit I worked for refused to explain why so many people with the same roles were being paid so differently, why a Black woman in department head role still had to report to an older White woman and why the entire executive team looked like the cast of Golden Girls. White people dominate the nonprofit space with over 80% of nonprofits being White-led.

To be able to found a nonprofit you need to have money or the ability to have money given to you in large sums. White people know that other White people with money eat up White saviorism especially in nonprofit form so they continue to make this the focal point in all marketing. This works for them but when they gain the funds to do “the work” they advertised, much like churches, they hoard the wealth and contribute to the systemic issues persisting.

It’s exhausting to continue to see people with money pretend that they don’t have money, ask poor people for money, be given tax write-offs or loopholes and continue to hoard wealth in extremely deceitful ways. I have since having left that nonprofit made sure to only donate to foundations, nonprofits and organizations that include people like me in leadership roles and are extremely transparent as to where the funds are being used. I’ll probably fall for a scam or two in the future but a White-led nonprofit will not be one of them.

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