Nonprofit foundations continue to turn a deaf ear and empty pocketbook to minority and political action groups, according to a couple of studies on foundation-giving released today.
The reports, prepare by coalitions of civil rights and other activist groups in Colorado and in San Francisco, charged that foundations in those cities still tend to favor long-established organizations engaged in tradically charged groups that sprouted during the 1960s and 1970s.
But the complaint is being sounded with increasing vigor by newer volunteer groups who see the old funding sources failin to adjust to changing times.
These newgroups-environmenttalists, women's rights advocates, legal defense funds, community action clubs-have been vying for funds and political clout alongside such traditional nonporfit organizatons as the United Way, the American Cancer Society and the Smithsonian Institution. And they found the going tough.
According to the Colorado report, only 2.7 percent of the $39 million given by the state's 25 largest foundations went to "nontraditional" recipients.
The San Francisco study, as well, concluded that foundations there provide virtually permanent support for a small set of organizations while new groups are subjected to "arbitrary and inflexible" funding limits.
"These reports," Robert Bothwell, Director of the National Committee for Responsive Philantropy said at a press conference yesterday, "illustrate that most private philanthropic foundations, contrary to the belief of many, have not been at the forefront of this country's movement toward a more just society.
"Neither the decision makers of most foundations nor the grants made by most foundations reflect anything but a token commitment at best to the insistent concerns of various groups with little economic or political power to participate more equally and fully in this nation's development," Bothwell added.
The NCRP is a Washington-based coalition of about 100 organizations working with minorities, women, consumers, the aging and the poor.
Bothwell cited three other recent studies of foundation giving-in Washington, Chicago and the South-east-which essentially reached the same conclusion as the Colorado and San Francisco studies. He also pointed out that research done several years ago showed that most national foundations were similarly very traditional in what they support.
Both recent studies offered two reasons for the lack of finding to non-traditional groups: lack of representation on the boards of foundations and lack of accessibility.
The boards of foundations, the reports claimed, are overwhelmingly white dominantly male and heavily populated with family members, business associate and friends of the original donor-people, the reports explained, who tend to come into contact more frequently with, say hospital officials and museum officers than free clinic and community arts group.
Only one of the 87 Colorado trustees and only 20 of the 350 San Francisco trustees looked at were from minority groups, according to the studies. In Colorado, only 13 percent of the trustee group was female, and in San francisco, only 27 percent was.