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Foundation Giving for Disability Where Are We Now?

Priorities and Trends Report

Stack of 10 dollar bills in white, with one green penny.
Only 1 penny of every 10 grantmaking dollars goes to disability rights and social justice.

About the Report

One in four adult Americans and an estimated 1 billion people globally experience disability, but foundation funding for disability only represents approximately two cents of every foundation dollar awarded.

Foundation Giving for Disability: Priorities and Trends offers a first-ever, detailed examination of how U.S. foundations focus their support for disability communities. It serves as a resource for understanding the scale and priorities of current support and provides a baseline for measuring changes in funding going forward.

Funding for Disability Rights & Social Justice

Disability is part of diversity and celebrated by many of the world’s 1 billion disabled people as an identity, community, and culture. 

Yet, our societies are shaped by ableism. 

As highlighted in this brief, philanthropy too often perpetuates ableism by ignoring disability. The philanthropic sector urgently needs to invest in strategies advocated by disabled leaders. Disabled people are an essential part of equitable solutions for our collective future.

People with disabilities are:

1 in 7 people in the world 

1 in 4 adult Americans 

Disability is a social, cultural, political, and personal identity that cuts across all identity groups. It can be apparent or non-apparent and can be acquired at any point in a person’s life. 

One billion people with disabilities, only one penny for every $10 of grantmaking.

Two symbols infographic. 1. One penny in green. Label. Disability Rights and Social Justice. Sub-text. Forty-five million dollars. 2. Ten stacks of one dollar bills. Label. U.S. Foundation Grantmaking Total. Sub-text. Thirty-seven, point, two billion dollars.

That is how little U.S. foundations are investing in disability rights and social justice. Data from 2019 analyzed in the Foundation Giving for Disability: An Overview of Priorities and Trends report provides a baseline for expansion of investment.

Gaps in U.S. and Global Funding

While funders increasingly understand the role of systemic injustices among populations marginalized because of their identities, disability funding is still predominantly going to services and support.

What is funding for disability rights and social justice?

Funding for disability rights and social justice recognizes that disability is a facet of identity and addresses systems-level change to remove physical and attitudinal barriers to full participation in society.

What is funding for disability justice?

Based on recognition of compounding systems of oppression (e.g., racism, heterosexism and ableism), this funding centers the leadership of historically excluded disabled people and supports disability-led organizations.

Exceedingly Low Investment

Overall funding for disability is dismally low ($755.1 million out of $37.2 billion). A mere 6% ($45.8 million) of it goes to disability rights and social justice. And although 80% of people with disabilities live in the developing world, only 10% ($74 million) of disability funding focuses outside the United States.

Pie chart. 94 percent, Disability Services and Support, 710 million dollars. 6 percent, Disability Rights and Social Justice, 45.8 million dollars.

Lack of Diversified Funding

A few large funders account for the bulk of the funding. Ford Foundation alone gives 35-40% of domestic and global funding for disability rights and social justice. Just 80 of the 757 U.S. foundations are giving grants for disability rights and social justice domestically, and just 18 globally.

Total foundation giving for disability rights and justice, infographic. Top bar. 24 point 8 million dollars domestically. 40 percent Ford Foundation. Bottom bar. 21 million dollars globally. 35 percent Ford Foundation.

The majority of recipients are getting a grant from only one of the Foundation 1000 funders. Median grant amounts are $50,000 or less.

Missing Focus on Intersecting Identities

Most disability rights and social justice funding focuses on the disability community overall. One-third or fewer disability grants address racial & ethnic minorities, women and girls, or LGBTQIA+ populations. There is a missing analysis of the disproportionate impacts of systemic injustice on disabled people with multiple intersecting historically-excluded identities. Further, most grantmaking does not address the connection of poverty to disability and other overlapping historically excluded identities.

But change is happening… and you can be part of it!

Learn more about where we are now and where we’re going by checking out the resource below: