The nonprofit Black Lives Matter foundation that has been under scrutiny over its finances in recent months has finally prepared a federal tax filing explaining many of its financial decisions over the past several years.
The Associated Press reported that it was given access to Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation’s 990 form, which is essentially a nonprofit organization’s federal tax return. It’s unclear whether that return was already filed with the IRS or had only been prepared ahead of filing. It shows that the organization had more than $42 million in assets in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2021, the result of taking in $90 million in donations and investing much of it in stock purchases to create an endowment.
It also details other spending that had some under scrutiny: the previously-reported purchase of a $6 million Studio City, Calif., home that BLMGNF co-founder Patrisse Cullors recently acknowledged she had used for personal purposes, Cullors’ $390 reimbursement of the organization for the use of the property as well as a $73,523 reimbursement to the organization for a charter airplane flight Cullors took.
In addition, there were millions of dollars in disbursements to BLM local chapters around the country and millions in other expenditures made with companies led by relatives or people with personal relationships to Cullors.
From the Associated Press
This is the BLM foundation’s first public accounting of its finances since incorporating in 2017. As a fledgling nonprofit, it had been under the fiscal sponsorship of a well-established charity, and wasn’t required to publicly disclose its financials until it became an independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit in December 2020.
The tax filing suggests the organization is still finding its footing: It currently has no executive director or in-house staff. Nonprofit experts tell the AP that the BLM foundation seems to be operating like a scrappy organization with far fewer resources, although some say Black-led charities face unfair scrutiny in an overwhelmingly white and wealthy philanthropic landscape.
Still, its governance structure makes it difficult to disprove allegations of impropriety, financial mismanagement and deviation from mission that have dogged the BLM foundation for years, one expert said.
Cullors resigned from her position as executive director and as a board member of BLMGNF last May, but questions have followed about the organization’s management of funds and transparency. Last week, she disclosed that she had previously used the Studio City house to host two personal events and had stayed there briefly, contradicting previous statements that the property had never been put to personal use.