Monday, October 4, 2010

African American Giving Circles: A Growing Trend in Philanthropy

New on is the article ‘How to Start A Giving Circle’ written by yours truly! I was delighted to write this article for the ‘Nonprofit Insider’ column because I am a founder of a giving circle, the Black Benefactors, and it allowed me to feature Darryl Lester, who is leading the charge in today’s African American giving circle movement. A giving circle is comprised of individuals who pool their money and resources, and then decide collectively how to give it away.

My article highlights this growing movement, and how Lester began his work to help create 11 African American giving circles across the country. Among them are the Birmingham Change Fund, a giving circle in Birmingham, Alabama (in photo), and the New Generation of African American Philanthropists in Charlotte, NC. Read my article HERE to learn more, and below, read why our next generation of philanthropists became involved in this movement.

“I was attracted to the idea of forming a black giving circle because together we could weave in our shared cultural values around how we wanted to engage as philanthropists, as a group on a mission and with our community. It’s also satisfying to bring to the surface and expand what too many people wrongly believe are rare: black donors.”--- Valaida Fullwood, founding member, New Generation of African American Philanthropists, Charlotte, NC

“Birmingham, Alabama is a civic minded city. There are numerous young professional organizations to get involved with. However, the giving circle model of philanthropy gave the members of Birmingham Change Fund the means to maximize our capacity to change the community. Some of the strengths of BCF are its diversity, the members’ commitment to BCF and each other, and the closeness of the membership. The circle is made up of men and women across different careers who care about each other as well as the community that we serve.” -- Lyord Watson Jr., Chairman, founding member, Birmingham Change Fund

“I have to thank my parents for providing me with an understanding about the importance of giving early on—long before the word philanthropy entered our vocabulary. We all get that “WOW” feeling when someone like Oprah can give cars to her entire audience or send them on trips around the world—or even creates a school in Africa. Few have the resources to do that, but we all can do something—that’s why I joined Black Benefactors. Through this group, my contributions are merged with others and, together, we can provide needed resources to a local organization that needs our help. Through this, we all benefit because we are touching lives in our own community. Knowing that I can help make a difference gives me that “WOW.” – Edward Jones, founding member, The Black Benefactors, Washington, DC

“One often overlooked benefit of the Birmingham Change Fund is its ability to bring philanthropy closer to people who never envisioned themselves as philanthropists. This notion or idea that “I am a philanthropist” means more than just making sizable donations or volunteering one’s time. This giving circle brings philanthropy into reality because our approach encompasses research, education, contributions, volunteering, and celebration. What we end up with is a true expression of collective philanthropy – one that we all can participate in.” Christopher M. Wilson, founding member, Birmingham Change Fund

“I was empowered by the fact that I could pool my time, talent and treasure with others and make an huge impact.” --- Meka Sales, member, New Generation of African American Philanthropists, Charlotte, NC

“The concept of giving circles feels very much at home for me and my fellow circle members. As we begin to develop our giving circle, we are discovering more about the historical and cultural African American traditions of collective giving. Our circle has intentionally included multiple generations, our oldest member is 90 years young and our youngest member is 28, and that among many other diversities of our circle (income, suburb vs. inner city, gender, etc.) has brought an inclusive lens to how we approach the development of our circle, decision-making, grantmaking and outreach. Giving circles highlight the Black community’s nature to fellowship, pool our resources, and share with others – it’s the bedrock of how OUR community strengthens from within.” --- LaDawn Sullivan, founding member, Black Mesa, Denver, Colorado


Yancey Arts said...

This is a very interesting read. We're reviewing your article and we're hoping to learn more insights from you on the subject. Thanks for writing this.

Tracey said...

Thank you for reading! I'll be sure to post more about giving circles in the near future.