Towards Racial Justice

Reflections from our Chief Executive, Antonia Orr and our Programme Director, Angela Schlenkhoff-Hus on Coalition for Efficiency’s journey to becoming an anti-racist organisation and on our organisation’s role in contributing to racial justice in the UK.

The events of the past year have focused our attention on the pressing need to address the disparities faced by people of colour and other minoritised groups. We have long been aware of and troubled by these inequalities but failed as individuals and as an organisation to take more concrete action.

As a predominantly white-led organisation there has been much for us to learn and confront: we commit to playing a more active role in combating racism and racial inequality in the UK.

At Coalition for Efficiency, we understand that any solution to address complex social issues exists beyond the reach of one single entity. We have been reflecting on the specific role we can play in contributing to racial justice.

We have long been an advocate for small organisations, recognising the vital role they can play in their communities, quickly grasping and responding to the true dimension of local challenges. The leaders we support recognise the many benefits of understanding and measuring impact. However, they struggle to find the time, money and headspace to make any lasting progress, despite the large number of high-quality impact tools, training and resources available.

Our primary focus is to provide tailored, practical, low-cost impact support to small organisations, building capacity within the teams so that they are in a position to measure, evaluate and learn for themselves in the future. We provide structure and a friendly helping hand for leaders and teams to develop their approach to impact practice, using their learnings to improve service delivery, communicate better with stakeholders and win funding.

“The process is very flexible and allowed me the time and space to build and develop a very positive relationship with my mentor. [She] is very patient and really helped me to understand a process I struggled for years to master. Thank you very much for the opportunity to progress our work in our organisation.” Tracey Ford, CEO of JAGS Foundation.

How (we think) our work can help to advance racial justice

We have supported a number of small Black, Asian and Minority led organisations through our programmes in the past, but have never actively sought to support specific regions, causes or ethnic groups.

We know that many of these organisations and initiatives are historically under-funded and under-supported. With the advent of the pandemic, nine out of ten are at risk of closing entirely. A recent report from Do it Now Now shared that: “Black-led impact organisations have an annual income under £33,000 with 60% of that income coming from the personal savings and salaries of the Directors”.

Conversations in the last year with knowledgeable and generous Black leaders such as Ugo Ikokwu, Duro Oye, and Bayo Adelaja helped us to recognise that as an organisation and because of our approach, we are especially well-placed to provide effective impact support to civil society leaders from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic backgrounds.

We believe that our role is to focus on what we already do well and use our empathetic, practical and non-judgmental approach which ‘meets the organisation where they are’ to shine a light on the effective solutions that they are delivering to their communities – and in turn secure much-needed funding.

Taking action

Our approach works for small organisations, but we have not done enough in the past to reach racialised communities and engage with their leaders. This is changing:

  • We are excited to be partnering with and learning from Do it Now Now as we explore strategies to support Black leaders and Black-led organisations in strengthening their voices.
  • We delivered our first impact training session to the grantees of Common Call to support the development and sustainability of Black led organisations, with several participants requesting follow-up support through our Impact Chats initiative.
  • We are improving our messaging and widening our networks so that more Black, Asian and other Minority Ethnic leaders can access our free impact support (Impact Chats and Learning Labs).
  • We are continuing to partner with Lloyds Bank Foundation who has recently launched the Racial Equity Fund and we look forward to supporting more of their grantees to develop their impact practice.
  • We are engaging with other funders to provide more in-depth impact support to Black, Asian and other minority ethnic organisations.

There is much more for us to learn and certainly more we could be doing to address racism and racial inequality:

  • We are addressing the lack of racial diversity within our skilled volunteer network.
  • We are improving how we record and monitor equalities data.
  • We are continuing to educate ourselves by listening and learning from trustees, peers, networks and experts.
  • We will be taking part in She Leads Change next Leading Collective Impact programme themed on diversity, inclusion and equity to identify and explore further solutions to the pervasive systemic inequalities.

We feel focused on our shared ambition; seeking to make a meaningful – not performative – contribution to achieving racial justice and for diversity, equity and inclusion more broadly.

We would love to hear from you!

If you are a Black, Asian or minority ethnic leader of a small organisation and would like help to develop your impact practice, you can book a free “Impact Chat” with us or attend our interactive learning events.

If you are a funder supporting Black, Asian and other minority ethnic led charities and would like to partner with us, please get in touch.

If you have any ideas or thoughts about how we can accelerate the path to racial justice, please get in touch.