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How much money has black lives matter raised Donations since George Floyd


Groups of Racial Justice Overwhelmed

With Millions of Contributions

Progressive and social justice organisations have undergone a cascade of donations following George Floyd's death and subsequent demonstrations. Bail funds alone got $90million.

People protesting in Manhattan this month as
People protesting in Manhattan this month as donations poured into national social justice organizations

George Floyd's killing and the resulting national wave of demonstrations are creating a record-setting influx of contributions to social justice campaigns, bail funds and black-led activist organizations throughout America, restoring the financial landscape of black political activism in weeks.

Money came in so quickly and suddenly that some organizations have started turning away and redirecting donors elsewhere. Others said they also couldn't describe how much had arrived. A deluge of online donations washed over large and small organizations—from legacy civil rights groups to self-declared abolitionists trying to defuse police.

Black leaders and activists said it was a watershed moment when a multi-racial alliance protesting structural injustice and police violence not only marched together, displayed unity on social media and drove best-seller racism books, but also opened their wallets—especially during a pandemic that drove 40 million people out of their employment and produced one of the sharpest eccs.

"Seeing millions of people give millions of dollars creates hope from this moment," said Glynda C. Carr, president of Higher Heights, a black women's political power-building organization that saw a surge of 15,000 donations in two weeks—about 10 times as normal. "Finally, not everyone went out and protested," she said. "This was how to participate."

ActBlue, the leading website for online contributions for Political causes and campaigns, has undergone the busiest time since its inception in 2004, far surpassing even the highest peaks of the presidential primary season in 2020. (ActBlue reported that social justice issues and bail funds led the way.) According to a New York Times web donation ticker study, the site's four biggest days ever came this month when it handled over $250 million for various progressive causes and candidates in two weeks.

And on June 2, the day of collective action known as Blackout Tuesday, ActBlue doubled its one-day record: raising $41 million in 24 hours.

"Is it a moment or a movement? I believe it's a movement," said Marc Morial, National Urban League chief. "It's organic, spontaneous, global."

Memorial funds for George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor's families have raised over $23 million
Memorial funds for George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor's families have raised over $23 million

Bail funds were at the forefront of the giving surge, as millions of Americans spontaneously gave money to ensure that any demonstrators involved in police fights soon left prison. Leaders of two major networks said bail funds had raised a combined $90 million over two weeks—an amazingly large amount for a cause that just recently existed on the political fringe.

Some of the leading black and social justice groups refused to comment on their windfall reach, including the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the Black Lives Matter Global Network, whose name turned into a national rallying cry.

"This is a watershed moment for all black-led organizing groups," said Kailee Scales, managing director of Black Lives Matter Global Network, who announced that only one of their group's online petitions raised $5 million. "It's the moment when our allies and individuals joined our call for justice." It's also, she said a time of "mixed emotions," after the killing of Mr. Floyd and other black Americans who "brought people to their knees around the globe."

Another person familiar with fund-raising the organization said it raised $10 million only on Blackout Tuesday; Ms. Scales declined to comment on that amount.

Few expect the duration to last. As demonstrators recede, so will donations, foretold leaders. Yet group after group now has a much wider donor base to draw from for potential donations. Several black leaders have brushed aside concerns that the sudden inflow of funds could be squandered, particularly by undersized groups suddenly flush with cash, as the needs are so great.

"We're all stretched against the world we're supposed to fix and the issues we've been involved in and sometimes the people we're up against," Mr. Morial said.

Bail funds to help detained demonstrators get out of prison quicker were at the forefront.
Bail funds to help detained demonstrators get out of prison quicker were at the forefront.

Color of Change, which has now become the country's largest online social justice organization, has quadrupled its membership from 1.7 million to 7 million in recent days.

Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change, said the organization had received "hundreds of thousands of individual donations"—far more than any previous period—and called it a "rallying cry to grow and continue the work."

Despite a policy of not accepting corporate contributions, in recent days so much unsolicited corporate money has flooded into Color of Change's accounts that the group's board is still trying to count the sum. The board has established what it calls an emergency fund to redistribute these corporate contributions to other black-led organisations in collaboration with the Amalgamated Foundation.

But as rubber bullets flew and tear-gas-filled police fights played out on cable news nightly, nothing became the progressive cause du jour quite like bail funds.

Pilar Weiss, the National Bail Fund Network's director, an umbrella organization linking independent neighborhood bail funds, said millions of people have contributed an estimated $75 million over the past two weeks to their network's funds. Robin Steinberg, chief executive of another national agency, the Bail Initiative, said the company earned another $15 million.

Sharlyn Grace, executive director of the Chicago Community Bond Fund, said The support we have received is not about us as a bail fund, but about supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and supporting protesters taking to the streets forcing this national reckoning."

Outpouring was organic, viral, enormous.

A bail fund collected $1.8 million from 50,000 contributors in Brooklyn, N.Y.—in just 24 hours—before asking donors to donate elsewhere. In Philadelphia, the bail fund hauled $2.4m. And in Los Angeles, one GoFundMe page for Black Lives Matter's local branch raised past $2 million, and another for a previously undersized community, People's City Council, jumped from $1,500 raised to $2.3 million.

Crowdsourced memorial funds for Mr. Floyd's relatives, Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot down in Georgia this year and Breonna Taylor, who was killed by police inside her home in Louisville, Ky., have raised over $23 million. The Floyd memorial smashed GoFundMe's record with almost 500,000 donations.

Some of the most extreme giving was to Minnesota organizations where Mr. Floyd was killed and demonstrations started. One community restoration initiative rapidly raised $6.2 million from 62,000 donors. Another party, Women for Political Change, helping younger women and transgender people, netted $219,000 from a GoFundMe campaign.

According to Tony Williams, a community member, Reclaim the Block, who wants to defuse the police, had no office or paid staff before. In recent days, he said the organization raised at least $1 million, but he didn't know the exact amount.

"I'm pretty sure it's a one-digit million because if it passed $10 million, I think somebody'd say, 'Holy hell! "He said. "It's a sign of the complete transformation taking place in the national dialogue."

The Minnesota Freedom Fund, a cash bail fund, raised an impressive $20 million in four days before redirecting donors elsewhere (including to Reclaim the Block). Another $10 million poured in anyway—from almost one million people, according to volunteer treasurer Steve Boland.

Total $30 million haul is almost 300 times what it raised in the tax filing of the previous full year.

It took Senator Elizabeth Warren's grassroots-funded presidential campaign for more than 13 months to cross the million-donor mark. According to his campaign, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, Joseph R. Biden Jr., has a record of 1.6 million unique donors nearly 14 months into his candidacy.

Mr. Biden also saw a major increase in late fundraising when he spent $5 million in Facebook ads in the first week of June — investing more in a few days than in the first 10 months of his campaign, an indication of how many donors replied. Over a week, over 1.2 million people entered his email list.

Some of the most intense gifts were left-wing and social justice organizations in Minnesota, where Mr. Floyd was killed in police custody, and demonstrations began
Some of the most intense gifts were left-wing and social justice organizations in Minnesota, where Mr. Floyd was killed in police custody, and demonstrations began

There is some precedent for major cultural inflections. In mid-2018, when Trump administration divided border families, a single Facebook fund-raiser for Texas' Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services went viral, raising $20 million in a few days.

But it was one fund-raiser and one party, not the overwhelming number of groups that have witnessed recent windfalls, including the activists and supporters as well as some of the journalism outlets that covered them.

A small community in Chicago, Equity and Change, representing the economy's black people, saw a dormant GoFundMe page go freshly viral, raising $44,000. "We've never had such resources," said creator Richard Wallace.

Unicorn Riot, an alternative media organization that closely followed the early Minneapolis protests, blew a factor of 100 beyond an initial $5,000 online fund-raising target, raising $570,000, according to the site's online tracker. And the Marshall Project, a Pulitzer-winning non-profit news organization focusing on the criminal justice system, saw its membership double from 4,000 to 9,500, according to the group's founder, Carroll Bogert.

"We're just sitting here doing our jobs, and donations began to skyrocket," she said.

The energy to contribute is so immense that even those without money have found ways to contribute, including watching YouTube videos pledging to guide every dollar of revenue to racial justice causes.

"I wish I could give money—I can't, I'm broken," said Zoe Amira, a 20-year-old living outside Chicago, uploading an ad-laden video that was watched more than nine million times, raising $42,000—before being yanked for violating ad policies. She later said on Twitter that YouTube said it would make an equivalent size donation because it "believed in the essence of the project."

Celebrities—among others Chrissy Teigen, Lady Gaga, Leonardo DiCaprio—have joined and amplified the gift. One pop star, Abel Tesfaye, known as The Weeknd, collected $500,000 in donations. And the K-pop boy band BTS revealed giving Black Lives Matter $1 million; its fan group matched that by contributing $1.3 million to a dozen advocacy groups.

Big companies make significant pledges: $100 million each from Warner Music Group, Comcast and Sony Music Group for different causes of social justice among several companies.

Small donors give momentum. Aidan King, a Progressive Digital Strategist, created a platform on ActBlue to encourage people to contribute to thousands of bail funds and other social justice organizations simultaneously. In two weeks, the single page processed $16.5 million from over 215,000 individuals.

"It's this horribly tragic and heartbreaking storm, but also beautifully perfect for activism and solidarity," Mr. King said.

Ms. Carr, Higher Heights chief, said she first noticed several white friends and colleagues in her own network giving black-led groups.

"People," she said, "are now inspired."


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