From BGB :: Hartford Fdn Celebrates Black Philanthropy with Stories of Inspiration

It’s been two months since my last blog post due, in large part, to a full travel schedule for book talks and preparations for the upcoming launch of the “Giving Back: The Soul of Philanthropy Reframed and Exhibited” exhibition. (More to come about the exhibit over the next few months!!!)

Here’s a story about my visit to Hartford, Connecticut in September: Hartford Foundation Celebrates Black Philanthropy with Stories of Inspiration.


— VF

From BPM: ‘Feed Your Soul’ Lecture Series Highlights African American Giving in Arizona

up early in phoenix, no sun rising yet.
prepping for talk on legacy left,
once our brief sun is set.

19 Feb 2014

Here’s a link to the piece on  the Arizona Community Foundation  lunch event during Black History Month:

“Feed Your Soul” Lecture Series Highlights African American Giving in Arizona

Student government leaders from Phoenix Job Corps members at ACF lunch event

Student government leaders from Phoenix Job Corps at ACF lunch event

My soul was fed that day.

— VF

Thrice Is Nice

Three consecutive events are on the horizon where my giving circle and/or I will lead discussions about various facets of philanthropy. Civic discourse and public perceptions are shifting about the essence of philanthropy and how we can practice it to benefit the beloved community. There’s far more work to do, but the seeds of our long collective effort are blossoming and I couldn’t be happier.

“Feed Your Soul” Lecture Series, Feb 19
Arizona Community Foundation

“What Will Be Your Legacy?” Panel Discussion, Feb 22
Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture

“We’re Bringing Giving Back” Presentation, Feb 26
Association of Fundraising Professionals-Charlotte Chapter

More info is here and here. Come join us!

(and this doesn’t even include this weekend’s retreat with members of New Generation of African American Philanthropists, where we’ll plant more seeds for gatherings, grants and giving in 2014.)

Phoenix Foundation’s ‘Feed Your Soul’ Series

Food for the body is not enough. There must be food for the soul. — Dorothy Day, journalist and social activist

Phoenix rising on the horizon as the Arizona Community Foundation presents its Feed Your Soul lecture series.

Photography by Charles W. Thomas, Jr.

Photography by Charles W. Thomas, Jr.

“In honor of Black History Month, the Black Philanthropy Initiative will host an intimate discussion regarding the history of African American giving, featuring Valaida Fullwood, author of Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists, and Charlene Tarver, Esq., estate planning attorney.

Join us as we investigate the journey through Black traditions in giving and explore ways to drive change in our communities.”

More info here.

Philanthropy For and By The People

Presenting a richer picture of how generosity builds community by reframing portraits of philanthropy is my passion.

VF at NC Nonprofits ConfOn September 19, I experienced the joy of delivering the keynote message to more than 600 people at the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits Statewide Conference in Concord. To my delight, the audience responded with a standing ovation. Here’s a Storify recap of the event.

VF at NC Nonprofit Conference Sep 2013Titled Philanthropy For and By The People, my talk celebrated the line of sight and the assets that everyday people, deep within communities, can bring to the field of philanthropy. Bringing about change in today’s world requires shifts in perspective and in thinking and approach. While writing Giving Back and engaging diverse audiences, I gained potent lessons from unsung yet generous donors who are democratizing giving and enlivening the soul of philanthropy. There’s value in including a wider slice of society as benefactors of the nonprofit sector.

Straight To Video


Exactly one month ago, our TEDx video, titled “A Picture Reframe: Philanthropy, Identity and Epiphany,” premiered on YouTube and then, so as this post’s title indicates . . .

When You Have Something to Say . . .


Margot Jordan, photographer

Margot Jordan, photographer


“When you reframe something, you must first deconstruct what was once there. That can be excruciating, when that something is you.”  quote from my recent TEDx Talk with Charles Thomas

Valaida presenting during TEDxCLT 2013, photography by Deborah Triplett

Valaida presenting during TEDxCLT 2013, photography by Deborah Triplett

Friday was a phenomenal day. Charles and I co-presented at TEDxCharlotte to a sold-out audience of 500. The experience was exhilarating. In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a local forum for presentation, innovation, connection, discussion and inspiration.

For months, I worked with Charles to isolate a single idea (worth spreading) from our shared experience creating Giving Back. We would meet for an hour or two, once or twice a week since December, to engage in stream-of-consciousness exploration of our aspirations, struggles, achievements, questions, fears, yearning and learning, catalyzed by our book project. In retrospect it might seem unsurprising, but the idea we finally landed on surprised us both. Exploring idea after idea took us full circle, leading us right back to the one on which our book was built: the power of reframing. Reframing an issue. Reframing images. Reframing ideas. Reframing identity.

Charles Thomas presenting at TEDxCLT 2013, photography by Deborah Triplett

Charles Thomas presenting at TEDxCLT 2013, photography by Deborah Triplett

We then invested time poring over videos of TED and TEDx Talks and determining how best to weaving a narrative with threads from our respective personal stories where “reframing” was central. Each of us had many stories to choose from, some from experiences around the book and some from our lives before and after the book. Narrowing to three or four vignette stories was difficult. Once we found our stories, we focused on finding words and sequencing phrases to convey a compelling message. As co-presenters, we also worked to braid our storytelling with coherence. Along the way, the presentation’s title emerged: A Picture Reframed.

A guiding force during the months-long process was our presentation coach, Lou Solomon of Interact. Lou develops leaders and builds business through authentic communication. Once Charles and I sketched out our talk, Lou, and her colleague Patrick Sheehan, advised us how best to reach our goal of delivering an extraordinary presentation that could move and inspire people. They videotaped our practice sessions, even the raw, early ones, and then together we would watch and critique the presentation. Though videos intimidated me at first, I soon learned their value. My cringing and self-criticism eventually gave way to constructive self-critique.

I learned how strengthening a presentation is much like editing and refining a written piece. Both require more time, effort, introspection, honesty and practice than most people are willing to commit. My confidence as a presenter grew through the experience with Lou and Patrick.

TEDx graphicWith some input from Candice Langston (our TEDxCharlotte presentation coach), more practice and an onsite rehearsal at Silver Hammer Studios a week prior to the big event (not to mention 15+ months of polishing our presentation style while on the road promoting our book), Charles and I felt well prepared for February 15th.

You can take a look at the culmination of our most recent collaboration as soon as the video is released. I will, of course, share it with you. Count on it!

— VF

P.S. In the meantime, here’s a 2-minute video that offers an overview of TEDxCharlotte 2013.