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Business as a Platform for Change

Salesforce Launches Catalyst Fund to Scale Inclusive Philanthropy

Unrestricted grants will support 20 nonprofits led by underrepresented leaders


Today, Salesforce announced the launch of its Catalyst Fund, which will provide critical, unrestricted capital to nonprofits led by underrepresented leaders. 

The first round of grants, totaling $2 million, support 20 nonprofits in Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, that are addressing inequities in education, economic opportunity, and racial justice.

“It’s important to assess who our grantees serve and what they do, but it’s equally important that their leaders reflect the communities they are serving,” said Rebecca Ferguson, SVP of Philanthropy, Salesforce. “The Salesforce Catalyst Fund aims to empower underrepresented leaders who are closest to the issues and can guide the best approach for their communities.”

Salesforce addressing philanthropic inequities through new fund

As income and wealth inequalities widen, advancing access to capital for people of color and underrepresented groups is critical to closing the wealth gap. Black and Latinx nonprofit leaders receive only about 4% of philanthropic funding in the U.S., though they make up approximately 10% of nonprofit leadership nationwide. 

This capital gap is even more pronounced when it comes to unrestricted funding — funding nonprofits can use to support operating costs and innovation. The unrestricted net assets of Black-led organizations are 76% smaller than their white-led counterparts, ultimately contributing to the systemic underinvestment in these communities. 

Catalyzing new solutions with unrestricted funding prompts trust, flexibility

The Catalyst Fund aims to counter systemic racial inequities in philanthropic funding by redistributing the flow of money to traditionally underfunded groups. The fund will empower leaders closest to the issues, providing unrestricted funding to help drive new solutions and deepen their impact. 

Historically, nonprofit leaders spend a lot of time chasing funding and reporting their progress back to funders. By distributing unrestricted funding to trusted organizations, Salesforce will lower these administrative burdens and empower organizations to focus on what really matters — bringing innovative solutions to communities in need.

Catalyst Fund grantees are each given $100,000 to use at their discretion — a different model from traditional giving, which often requires nonprofits to demonstrate an intention to do work that aligns with the funders’ priorities. Too often, this model results in a power dynamic where the funders steer the solutions. Salesforce recognizes that its partner organizations working directly with the issues are likely more aware of what solutions work best, and unrestricted funding allows them to take risks and pilot new ideas in the spaces they are serving. 

Salesforce donates to underfunded orgs to support growth  

The first round of grantees are organizations with person of color (PoC) or underrepresented leaders that are less than 10 years old or have operating budgets of less than $2 million. Salesforce specifically focused on small nonprofits, as organizations of this size are often overlooked for funding and struggle to build the teams and resources needed to scale.

The first round of grants from the Catalyst Fund will support:

“We’re the only nonprofit focused on supporting the Latino farm worker community in this area so we have to think about how our work cares for the whole child in our rural community,” said Belinda Hernandez-Arriaga, Executive Director & Founder of ALAS. “Support from the Catalyst Fund has catapulted our ability to have an educational specialist and provide critical resources and advocacy for children in our community.”

What’s next for Catalyst Fund?

Salesforce is constantly learning from its nonprofit partners and improving its grantmaking processes to ensure Salesforce philanthropy is inclusive and reaching the organizations that will benefit most from these funds. With round one of the Catalyst Fund underway, Salesforce will be continuing the momentum by awarding a second round of grants to 20 additional nonprofit organizations later this year. 

Salesforce works toward systemic change

Salesforce believes creating systemic change in communities comes in part through inclusive business practices, investing resources, and empowering minority-led organizations. Philanthropy is a key pillar in this effort, and Salesforce is committed to supporting diverse leaders and organizations to drive inclusive grantmaking across its entire philanthropic portfolio.

Learn more about Salesforce’s commitment to racial equality and justice.

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