Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Celebrating 8 Years of Black Philanthropy

BlackGivesBack signs off after 8 years

Dear Readers,

I created eight years ago as a hobby that grew from my love of Black philanthropy. My goal was to uplift, inform and inspire Black philanthropy. From sharing stories of Black philanthropists to nonprofits striving to improve Black communities, it has been a joy to introduce and spotlight these good works and to show that African-Americans are not just passive recipients of philanthropy, but major benefactors. A lot has been accomplished in the field and I am grateful that I played a role. But now is the time for me to move on to the next chapter.

Today marks the end of the blog

This was a very difficult decision, but I’m excited about the possibilities to further promote and inspire Black philanthropy in other ways.

Readers often ask me if is a full-time job. It isn’t. I’m also often asked if the blog makes a profit. It doesn’t. I work a full-time job during the day, blog at night, and run a successful giving circle, Black Benefactors in Washington, DC. This leaves little time for me to do the things I cherish the most, such as spending time with family and friends, enjoying nature, and investing in self-care and my personal well-being.

So I thought, how can I continue the work of in other ways? I have some ideas but will need your help. Please take a few minutes to complete my survey HERE. Your responses will help me to determine how I can best continue BlackGivesBack in the future.

I’m proud of the work I’ve accomplished through this platform and am thankful for all of the wonderful people I’ve met who are giving back to their communities in big ways. THANK YOU for reading! For those of you who shared a post or story, sent an email with words of encouragement or reached out to help, it was greatly appreciated.

I’d like to give a special thank you to my contributors over the years who helped me to share stories of Black giving in their communities: Akira Barclay, Valaida Fullwood, Sandra Davis, Dr. Froswa' Booker-Drew, Tokiwa Smith and Lisa Brathwaite.  They not only became contributors, but friends who shared a similar passion, vision and support for the cause. Also much appreciation goes to media outlets that amplified BGB's work (,,, NPR and Ebony magazine); and to everyone who shared their stories and testimonies on You made this journey possible!

Here’s how you can support my work and Black philanthropy:

  • Join BlackGivesBack’s Linkedin group where you can share news, opportunities, events and resources.
  • Support “The Soul of Philanthropy” tour spearheaded by long-time contributor Valaida Fullwood. The traveling exhibit encompasses rich black-and-white images from the award-winning book Giving Back:  A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists.   The tour's next stop is North Carolina State University in February 2016 followed by Grambling State University, Tougaloo College and University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Explore bringing the exhibit to your community at

I hope that has inspired you to give and think about how you can make an even greater impact in your community and the world.

But before I leave, one last story! Four months following the end of Black Philanthropy Month (BPM), the BPM Architects are pleased to release “Black Philanthropy Month 2015 Report for Our Community of Stakeholders.” BPM is designed as a multimedia campaign to inform, inspire and invest in Black philanthropic leadership. High-impact events, media stories, service projects and giving opportunities characterize the annual campaign.

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This year’s focal concept was A Season of Change—a timely assertion that Black giving matters. News reports and personal experiences of racial discord, disturbing shootings, unsettling indignities and pervasive inequities serve as reminders of why traditions of giving and collective action for human rights and social change have been vital in Black communities for centuries. As a month-long campaign, BPM 2015 comprised activities—online and in communities—to inspire people to give back in smarter and more strategic ways and transform one another’s lives for the better.

Read the full report here and visit the website at to stay updated on Black Philanthropy Month 2016.

Yours in giving,


Monday, December 7, 2015

Black-Owned Philanthropic Special Events Company Celebrates 10 Years

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Dani Johnson (right), founder of Special Gathering with Marcus Littles of Frontline Solutions at the 11th
Annual Community Investment Network Conference in October 2015.

Event planner Dani Johnson has a unique focus for her special events company – philanthropy. In fact, it’s her sole focus. Launched in 2005, Special Gathering is a national leader and expert in philanthropic mission-driven and culturally competent events, and strategic branding campaigns. Her client list reads like a who’s who in philanthropy: Annie E. Casey Foundation, Associated Black Charities, National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), ABFE (Association of Black Foundation Executives) and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum, among many others. In October, Special Gathering coordinated the Community Investment Network’s 11th annual conference in the Washington, DC area that convened giving circles of color, grassroots philanthropists, funders and social justice activists.

Read on to learn what inspired Dani to create Special Gathering and her five tips for hosting a successful philanthropic event.

What was your inspiration for starting a philanthropic focused special events company?

I launched Special Gathering while coordinating a conference in 2005 for a major philanthropic community investment firm. After the conference, I reflected on my experience as a planner and quickly realized that philanthropy has tremendous potential to become more effective if the philanthropic community were more organized in presenting an equitable and inclusive experience – no matter your class, economic status, race or cultural identity. When you create a space that allows for collective community sharing and collaboration, you’re more likely to receive a greater response.

How is planning for a philanthropic event different from planning other events? What unique skill set do you bring?

Special Gathering exemplifies Social Entrepreneurship in the highest regard. We encourage our clients to adopt our principles of utilizing an event as a strategic step in the process of conveying an organization’s mission and vision. Our core approach allows the event to project who the organization is and what the organization is about. We work closely with our clients to develop a strategy and brand that is equitable and inclusive, and helps clients identify strategies that offer the most impact and life-changing results.

Youve been in business for ten years. Is there an event that stands out as the most memorable?

My most memorable event was the Maryland Legal Aid Centennial Celebration that featured guest speaker, Mr. Harry Belafonte. It was an amazing experience to take part in their re-branding and event strategy that supported the organization’s goal of incorporating their message as part of the milestone occasion. Maryland Legal Aid is historically known as a statewide non-profit law firm that provides free civil legal services to low-income and vulnerable residents. Being a part of the creative process to help introduce their new message, “Advancing Human Rights and Justice for All” to the world was absolutely amazing.

What are important tips for hosting a successful philanthropic event?

Special Gathering is guided by 5 tips.

Tip #1: Be wise. Develop a solid event design that includes a revenue and brand strategy.

Tip #2: Have real expectations for your event. Under promise and over deliver is the best way to execute.

Tip #3: Lead with focus. Plan your event through the lens of the mission and vision of your organization.

Tip #4: Foster key connections. Events build your brand promise and strengthen your donor relationships.

Tip #5: Be creative. Infuse a mix of fundraising tools: ticket sales, sponsorships and auction, just to name a few.

How can readers get in contact with you?

Readers can visit my website at and contact me via email at and phone, 410-685-7664. Follow Special Gathering on Facebook and Twitter at @eventimpossible.

Photo Credit: Gee James/Capitol Media USA

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

“The State of Black Rochester” and the Power of Giving Together

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Closing out our Community Foundation Week series is the Rochester Area Community Foundation in Rochester, New York. In 2011 the foundation formed the African American Giving Initiative, which is focused on creating an endowment fund with broad community support and to provide grant making for needs that are specific to the African American community in the greater Rochester region.

One of their first tasks was to develop a better understanding of the disparities between African Americans and others in their community. The result was the book, “The State of Black Rochester 2013: Education + Employment = Equity” that has been used by their group and many others in the community to help direct their grant making and focus attention on areas such as education, health, economic development, criminal justice and more. Rather than just create another recital of community problems, the book proposed solutions in the final chapter. Proceeds support the initiative’s grant making.

Members contribute $1,000 annually to the fund that is equally divided for grant making and endowment building. To date $18,000 in grants have been awarded and $30,000 has been raised for the endowment.

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Dana K. Miller, CFRE (left) Vice President of Advancement at Rochester Area Community Foundation
in front of their bookstore display at Mood Makers Books, a local African American owned bookstore.

Learn more about the African American Giving Initiative at

Black Giving Matters: Interview with Terri Bradford Eason of The Cleveland Foundation

Teri Eason volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House in Cleveland, OH,
and helped cook breakfast for 55 families.

During Community Foundation Week (November 12-18), is highlighting staff, board members and donors at community foundations that are demonstrating a strong commitment to informing, inspiring, investing in and involving Black philanthropic leadership.

A Cleveland, Ohio, native, Terri Bradford Eason is Director of Gift Planning at The Cleveland Foundation—a 101 year-old institution that holds the distinction of being the world’s first community foundation. Eason joined the Foundation in October 2008 after gaining two decades of experience in the financial services industry. She held several positions with National City (now PNC) and supported several functions including wealth management, relationship management, new business development, and both private and corporate banking. During her tenure, Eason received the company’s NCC Excel Award for extraordinary client and community service. She also was the recipient of the YWCA Women of Professional Excellence Award, TLOD Status of Women Award, and the NCNW Phenomenal Women of Extraordinary Leadership and Service Award.

Eason has served the nonprofit community as a director on several area nonprofit boards, including Cleveland Hearing and Speech Center (Past-Board President), Recovery Resources, Junior Achievement, and the Women’s City Club Foundation. Currently, she is President of the Alpha Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, and the Chairman of Alpha Omega Foundation, Incorporated. In addition, she serves on the Legacy Village Lyndhurst Community Fund Committee and is a member of the National Black MBA Association, Inc., Beta Gamma Sigma National Honor Society, Cleveland Chapter of Links, Inc., and Jack & Jill of America, Inc.

She earned an MBA from Cleveland State University and a B.A. from Penn State University. Eason resides in South Euclid, OH with her husband Clayton Eason, Sr. and their two sons Clayton II, age 17 and Bradford, age 15.

Black Giving Matters Interview

Eason’s first recollection of giving dates back to when she was six years old. “From October through the end of any given year at my grandmother’s house, we were always preparing and packing hundreds of meals for people in need,” Eason recently shared. “My grandmother raised me to always think first of others, and now in my career and my community work, her work ethic is truly apparent.”

Managing The Cleveland Foundation’s Gift Planning Program, Eason’s primary focus is cultivating relationships that help individuals establish current and deferred philanthropic funds, legacy gifts and charitable giving strategic plans. In her role, Eason works closely with professional advisors and their clients to identify, create and provide charitable planning options tailored to achieve specific philanthropic goals.

Eason’s work and passion for the community are in sync with the Foundation’s mission of enhancing the lives of all residents of Greater Cleveland, now and for generations to come, by working with donors to build community endowment, address needs through grantmaking and provide leadership on key community issues.

At the Foundation, Eason has functional responsibility for the African-American Philanthropy Committee (AAPC) created in 1993 to promote awareness and education to African Americans about the benefits of wealth and community preservation through philanthropy. Awareness led to stewardship in 2010, when the Committee established a fund to help support a variety of organizations within the African-American community of Greater Cleveland. The African-American Philanthropy Committee Legacy Fund is bolstered by individuals of all ages, churches, businesses, sororities and fraternities, and multiple member organizations.

AAPC convenes a Philanthropy Summit once every two years to raise the visibility of African-American philanthropy in the region and honor local African-American philanthropists who are making a lasting and significant impact. The Summit, which attracts local, regional and national attention, advances the Committee’s mission and provides tools and insight for individuals who are participating in charitable giving.

“Our next Philanthropy Summit will take place on April 23, 2016 in Cleveland,” Eason noted. “The theme, ‘Impact and Influence: The Evolution of African American Giving,’ will be a celebration of existing philanthropists and a call to action for aspiring philanthropists to develop their own philanthropic legacy. This fourth biennial Summit is designed to engage a broad range of philanthropic topics and interests and also break down some real and perceived barriers to giving,” she added.

About Community Foundation Week 2015
Community Foundation Week (#CFWeek)—running Thursday, November 12 through Wednesday, November 18—helps raise awareness about the more than 750 community foundations across the United States. Learn more here.

Submitted by Valaida Fullwood
Described an “idea whisperer,” Valaida brings unbridled imagination and a gift for harnessing wild ideas to her work as a writer and project strategist. She is a founding member of Charlotte’s New Generation of African American Philanthropists, author of Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists and innovator for the touring exhibition “Giving Back: The Soul of Philanthropy Reframed and Exhibited.” Follow @ValaidaF and

Monday, November 16, 2015

Black Giving Matters: Rodney O. Powell, Board Member at Hartford Foundation for Public Giving

During Community Foundation Week (Nov. 12-18), is highlighting staff, board members and donors at community foundations that are demonstrating a strong commitment to informing, inspiring, investing in and involving Black philanthropic leadership.

A resident of Hartford, Connecticut, Rodney “Rod” Powell serves on the Board of Directors of the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving and is a charter member of his city’s new Black Giving Circle Fund. Powell is president, Corporate Citizenship for Eversource Energy, where he is primarily responsible for directing and managing the Eversource Energy Foundation, and the company's social responsibility programs and philanthropic strategy. Prior to his current position, Powell held various executive positions in the energy sector.

Powell was born in Norfolk, Virginia, and graduated from Norfolk State College. He is a father of four children and committed to his community. His extensive board service includes: Hartford Foundation (current board member); Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts (current board member); American Gas Association (former board member); Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (current board member); Northeast Gas Association (former board chair); and Capital Region Workforce Board (former board chair). He worships and is an active member of the Liberty Christian Center, International.

As a Hartford Foundation board member, Powell governs a 90-year-old community foundation that serves Hartford and 28 surrounding communities. Through charitable gifts from thousands of individuals, families and organizations, Hartford Foundation has awarded grants of more than $620 million since its founding in 1925. During 2015, Powell was part of a group of Black donors who pooled their dollars to establish the Black Giving Circle Fund, an endowed fund for grantmaking at the Hartford Foundation. The giving circle’s mission is “to create sustainable change in the Black community by leveraging the philanthropic efforts of donors and celebrating Black philanthropy.” Members of the circle are examining issues facing the Black community in Greater Hartford and, collectively, recommending grants to nonprofit organizations that work to address needs in the Black community.


What’s your earliest memory of generosity?

Growing up in a family of limited means and witnessing my grandfather’s generosity to our neighbors helped me appreciate that while our family situation was a far cry from rich, we always seemed to have enough to share with others.

What’s your inspiration for giving?

My strongest inspiration for giving is through my faith in God and the outpouring of the many blessings He has afforded me.

What are your thoughts on why Black giving matters?

I believe Black philanthropy is critical to the well-being of the Black community. Black folk have always supported one another although we didn't call it philanthropy, but just “helping out.” Now that more and more Black people are capable of providing financial support, much of that support goes to helping our own immediate family members. I believe that in coming generations when the Black family is stronger in totality, we will be even better positioned to provide financial support more universally. Now is the time to start shaping the thinking and setting the expectations of those future generations.

What’s one lesson you’ve learned from your philanthropy?

The more I give the less I need!

What do you aspire to see in this season of change, following Ferguson, Baltimore, Charleston, and so on?

I think the two are very different questions. Black philanthropy is about paying forward as well as paying back! Ferguson, Baltimore, Charleston etc. are about issues of equality, opportunity and racial injustice. Issues that have existed long before and will continue to exist long after the notion of Black philanthropy.

About Community Foundation Week 2015
Community Foundation Week (#CFWeek)—running Thursday, November 12 through Wednesday, November 18—helps raise awareness about the more than 750 community foundations across the United States. Learn more here.

Submitted by Valaida Fullwood
Described an “idea whisperer,” Valaida brings unbridled imagination and a gift for harnessing wild ideas to her work as a writer and project strategist. She is a founding member of Charlotte’s New Generation of African American Philanthropists, author of Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists and innovator for the touring exhibition “Giving Back: The Soul of Philanthropy Reframed and Exhibited.” Follow @ValaidaF and

Friday, November 13, 2015

Community Foundation Week Profile: Dr. Ivye L. Allen, President of Foundation for the Mid South

Community Foundation Week (#CFWeek)—running Thursday, November 12 through Wednesday, November 18 — helps raise awareness about the more than 750 community foundations across the United States. Given the crucial role of community philanthropy in a vibrant local community, over the coming days, is highlighting staff, board members and donors at community foundations, demonstrating strong commitment to informing, inspiring, investing in and involving Black philanthropic leadership.

The Black Giving Matters series by BGB Contributor Valaida Fullwood launched in August during Black Philanthropy Month 2015 is being reprised this week in observance of Community Foundation Week.

Ivye L. Allen, Ph.D. is President and CEO of the Foundation for the Mid South (FMS), a community foundation serving the tri-state region of Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. The Foundation was established to bring together the public and private sectors and focus their resources on increasing social and economic opportunity.

FMS supports programs and initiatives that focus on community development, education, health and wellness, and wealth building. Its approach is straightforward and long term: enable communities to develop solutions to better conditions and improve lives.

One of the Foundation’s many community partners is 100 Black Men, a national organization dedicated to improving the quality of life and economic opportunity for African-American men. With FMS support, the Jackson, Mississippi chapter of 100 Black Men developed Pathways to Success: Encouraging Career-Readiness for Young Black Men. It is an education program focused on academic strategies and enrichment opportunities to help high school students learn in effective and innovative ways. FMS also granted funds to bring the museum exhibit Giving Back: The Soul of Philanthropy Reframed and Exhibited to three Historically Black Colleges and Universities in its region, an intentional investment in the next generation of philanthropic leadership among young people of color.

Dr. Allen is a strategic and thoughtful leader who is skilled at bringing together community partners and attracting public and private resources to address important community concerns. Allen previously served as Chief Operating Officer for MDC Inc. and was Director of Fellowship Programs for the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. She also has held finance and marketing positions in Fortune 100 corporations.

Allen earned a Ph.D. in social policy from Columbia University; an M.S. in urban affairs from Hunter College; an M.B.A. in marketing and international business from New York University; and a B.A. in economics from Howard University.


What’s your inspiration for giving?

Helping others has been in my DNA all my life; my mother and father were extremely giving to others in our family, community, and church. To be honest, as long as I can remember, our family was assisting the community. As a young teenager, I began to realize the impact of the care and support for others and the community that my parents exhibited. For me and my siblings, it was expected and quite frankly became second nature. We were engaged in many church, school, and social activities that focused on supporting children, families, and communities.

Our house was often the place for meals and visits by those who did not have family. My dad was often finding odd jobs to support those who needed a hand up. My mother provided meals for those without a home and the elderly in our neighborhood. It was expected that we visit our neighbors who were homebound or in a nursing home. The reward was in seeing the smiles on their faces and recognizing that someone cared about them and wanted the best for them.

As I became an adult, I continued those tendencies to give my time, talent and treasure. I am blessed to do it professionally but continue to do so personally. We were constantly reminded that to whom much is given much is required. I along with my nine siblings owe that training and the expectation to give back to our parents Otis and Rosie Lee Allen.

Submitted by Valaida Fullwood
Described an “idea whisperer,” Valaida brings unbridled imagination and a gift for harnessing wild ideas to her work as a writer and project strategist. She is a founding member of Charlotte’s New Generation of African American Philanthropists, author of Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists and innovator for the touring exhibition “Giving Back: The Soul of Philanthropy Reframed and Exhibited.” Follow @ValaidaF and

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Black Women’s Giving Circle Kicks Off Community Foundation Week

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Members of the African-American Women's Giving and Empowerment Circle,
an initiative of the Arizona Community Foundation

Today marks the start of Community Foundation Week 2015, a national effort to raise awareness about the increasingly important role of these philanthropic organizations in fostering local collaboration and innovation to address persistent civic and economic challenges. Today there are over 750 community foundations across the country and chances are that there’s one serving your community.

What is a community foundation? The Council on Foundations defines them as grantmaking public charities that are dedicated to improving the lives of people in a defined local geographic area. They bring together the financial resources of individuals, families and businesses to support effective nonprofits in their communities.

In observance of Community Foundation Week (November 12-18), will highlight Black staff and board members at community foundations and their initiatives that benefit the African-American community. Let’s kick things off with the Arizona Community Foundation:

Arizona Community Foundation’s Black Philanthropy Initiative

In 2008 the foundation created the Black Philanthropy Initiative (BPI), a fund to advance equity, health, education, leadership and social justice for African-Americans in Arizona. Through strategic grantmaking, the BPI supports nonprofits led by and serving African‐Americans in such critical areas as health, education, workforce development, community building and more. Last month BPI celebrated the inaugural grants awarded by the African-American Women’s Giving and Empowerment Circle, one of two Black giving circles established under the initiative.

Read the full story here.

Learn more about the Arizona Community Foundation at