Concerns have been raised over the management of Black Lives Matter’s $60 million in donations as no one has been willing to take responsibility for leadership or control of the organization’s resources.
When the founding director stepped down last year, it was noted that Makani Themba and Monifa Bandele were taking over. However, in September, both individuals said they would not be accepting the role. The news meant BLM has no one at the helm of the large organization.
The most recent tax filing for the charity, from 2019, gives an address in Los Angeles that does not exist. Currently, the two remaining BLM directors identified by The Washington Examiner have been unable to help, one of which has since distanced himself from the organization.
BLM has yet to file a 2020 return, known as a Form 990, which means that the organization could face fines from the IRS.
Laurie Styron, the executive director of CharityWatch, said the findings were extremely disturbing. Styron said they should have filed their 2020 form by now.
“Like a giant ghost ship full of treasure drifting in the night with no captain, no discernible crew, and no clear direction,” she said.
Paul Kamenar, counsel for the National Legal and Policy Center, told the paper a full audit of BLM was needed, saying that the organization’s current state was “grossly irregular.”
In May 2021, BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors stepped down as director of the Black Lives Matter Global Network, the national body representing all the individual local chapters. This action by Cullors caught the attention of onlookers, who had concern over who would assume control of the massive organization.
Cullors co-founded BLM in July 2013 in the wake of the Trayvon Martin controversy.
Alicia Garza, a close friend of Cullors and an Oakland activist, posted what she called a love letter to black people on Facebook, writing, ‘Our lives matter.’
Cullors responded to the post with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, sparking the now worldwide movement.
New York activist Opal Tometi decided to use the hashtag while building a digital network of community organizers and activists, which has continued to grow.
Garza and Tometi are no longer a part of BLM. Cullors was its figurehead and leader throughout the George Floyd protests. During that time, the organization received a large influx of donations.
The organization’s finances were originally handled by the group Thousand Currents. The group says it has a “mission of supporting grassroots movements pushing for a more just and equitable world.”
In mid-2020, BLM’s leaders pursued nonprofit status with the IRS. The official status was granted in December 2020, allowing them to receive tax-deductible donations.
In February 2021, BLM verified it had accepted roughly $90 million in donations throughout 2020. The organization distributed funds to its partner organizations, leaving about $60 million in its accounts.