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BLM raked in $90 million in donations last year — but local chapters complain they’re not getting support

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BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors says organization is focused on the 'need to reinvest into Black communities'

Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

For the first time in almost eight years since its founding, leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement's principal organization are sharing a more detailed look at the group's finances. According to a financial snapshot obtained by the Associated Press this week, the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation raked in a whopping $90 million in donations last year.

The massive haul can reportedly be credited to an avalanche in contributions that followed the death of George Floyd in late May and continued on for the better part of the year. Floyd's death was the pivotal moment that kickstarted an international reckoning on police brutality against black people and racial injustice, in general, the effects of which can still be felt today.

Now the organization is reportedly aiming to build an infrastructure to catch up to the pace of its fundraising, with the goal of becoming known for more than just being the group that organizes protests after black Americans die in confrontation with police.

"We want to uplift Black joy and liberation, not just Black death. We want to see Black communities thriving, not just surviving," an impact statement shared with the AP said.

One of its primary goals for 2021 is to establish "economic justice." BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors added more specifically that the organization is focused on the "need to reinvest into Black communities."

"One of our biggest goals this year is taking the dollars we were able to raise in 2020 and building out the institution we've been trying to build for the last seven and a half years," she said.

Yet for all its lofty goals and successes in fundraising, the organization has been simultaneously plagued by infighting. As more money was raised and more power was concentrated at the top, longstanding tensions between grassroots organizers and the foundation's leadership began to boil over.

Activists at local chapters had complained for years that they weren't receiving enough support from the global network. Then late last year, 10 local chapters severed ties with the organization as part of a tense internal revolt.

Last summer, news broke that over the last three fiscal years only 6% of BLM's spending went to local chapters, while millions went toward travel and staff compensation.

According to the financial snapshot made available to the AP, the organization worked to correct that in 2020.

"The foundation said it committed $21.7 million in grant funding to official and unofficial BLM chapters, as well as 30 Black-led local organizations," the report stated. "It ended 2020 with a balance of more than $60 million, after spending nearly a quarter of its assets on the grant funds and other charitable giving."

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