Black Lives Matter Revenue Tumbles Amid Financial Scandals

In a development that reveals a significant shift in the fundraising landscape, the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation saw a sharp 88% drop in its revenue in 2022. The organization raised only $9.3 million, compared to a staggering $80 million raised in 2020, a year marked by widespread riots and unrest following the death of George Floyd.

This dramatic decrease in revenue is not without context. Indeed, several controversies have marred the Foundation’s public image. The most notable scandal involves founder Patrisse Cullors. Once describing herself as a “trained Marxist,” Cullors spent $3.2 million on properties across California and Georgia. A $6 million LA compound was also purchased using donor funds, in what many critics see as a gross lack of transparency.

Moreover, further investigations into the Foundation’s financial conduct have raised additional concerns. Financial disclosures from May 2022 unveiled payments totaling almost $841,000 to Paul Cullors, Patrisse Cullors’ brother, for “professional security services.” Those payments were made despite his complete lack of experience in the security field.

Paul’s windfall was in addition to the $1 million paid to an art firm led by the father of Patrisse Cullors’ only child and over $2 million allocated to a consulting firm owned by Shalomyah Bowers, a Black Lives Matter board member.

The organization’s financial woes were further compounded when it was cited in a lawsuit by a former sister organization, Black Lives Matter Grassroots, accusing Bowers of using the charity as his “personal piggy bank.” According to the lawsuit, Bowers allegedly channeled an additional $10 million in “fees” from the Foundation to his consulting firm, leading to multiple investigations by the Internal Revenue Service and various state attorney generals.

These questionable financial decisions have prompted backlash from both supporters and critics. For example, during a 2022 event, Patrisse Cullors spoke about her distress at hearing the term “IRS Form 990,” a standard financial disclosure document that charities must file. She claimed the “990 structure” felt unsafe and was being “weaponized against us, against the people we work with.”

The financial mismanagement within the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation is not just a cause for concern among its donors but a wake-up call for supporters of the broader movement. With the public scrutiny from being a highly visible charity, the Foundation’s missteps have resulted in reputational damage that has undoubtedly contributed to its current financial struggles.