The Black Lives Matter (BLM) Foundation is still worth more than $40 million after spending more than $37 million on grants, real estate, consultants, and other expenses.
The BLM Foundation shared its 63-page Form 990 with the Associated Press, which shows that the foundation invested $32 million in stocks from the $90 million it received in donations during the 2020 BLM protests and call for racial justice and equity.
BLM organizers told the AP the investment is expected to become an endowment that will ensure the foundation’s work will continue. The Foundation also ended the last fiscal year, July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021, with $42 million in net assets.
Form 990 was the first public accounting of the BLM Foundation’s finances since incorporating in 2017. Previously, the foundation was under the fiscal sponsorship of a well-established charity and wasn’t required to disclose its finances until it became an independent nonprofit in December 2020.
The organization’s founder, Patrisse Cullors, who has since left, said in an interview with Jason Lee on Fox Soul, that the organization was ill-prepared to handle the avalanche of donations they received during the summer of 2020.
One of the biggest controversies Cullors and the foundation faced was the $6 million purchase of a mansion that included six bedrooms and bathrooms, a swimming pool, a soundstage, and office space. The purchase led many to believe that the foundation was spending its donations wrongfully. Cullors said the home was purchased to be a campus for a Black artist fellowship; the purchase wasn’t announced because renovations needed to be done.
A current BLM board member told the AP the home is used for that purpose today.
The filing also shows the foundation is still working to solidify itself. According to Form 990, the foundation still does not have an executive director or an in-house staff. Nonprofit experts told the AP the foundation is running a scrappy organization with limited resources. However, others added it’s not a surprise considering the discrimination Black-led charities face in an overwhelmingly white and wealthy philanthropic industry.
The BLM movement first emerged in 2013 following the death of Travon Martin, but it was Michael Brown’s death in 2014 that sparked the slogan Black Lives Matter. Cullors, Alicia Garza and Ayọ Tometi started the foundation. All three have left.
The foundation’s current board members include Cicley Gay, D’Zhane Parker, and Shalomyah Bowers.