Looking forward to this community forum coming up in Annapolis!
Below are excerpts from “’The Soul of Philanthropy’ exhibit celebrates African-American giving” by Laura Bond for The Denver Foundation.
The Denver Foundation and Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library are honored to co-host “The Soul of Philanthropy Reframed and Exhibited,” a photographic and narrative exploration of African American giving, which runs August 1-31 at the library, 2401 Welton Street, in Denver’s historic Five Points neighborhood.
Denver is one of only ten cities to host “The Soul of Philanthropy Reframed and Exhibited,” which explores the triumphant movement of conscious giving for social change, shared through photos and words of African American philanthropists, with a special addition of Denver notables. Groundbreaking in focus and depth, the exhibition draws evocative images and incisive stories from the award-winning book Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists, by Valaida Fullwood and photographer Charles W. Thomas Jr.
“This exhibit is a window into African American giving…While the photos may be black and white, the culture and history of philanthropy in the African American community is a vibrant collage of individual, collective, and strategic giving which impacts and elevates our community. It’s got heart all over it. This is certainly a ‘reframed image’ of what is stereotypically depicted of philanthropy in communities of color. This exhibit is sure to spur conversations, connections, and ideas which the The Denver Foundation looks forward to potentially supporting.”
— LaDawn Sullivan, Director of Community Leadership, The Denver Foundation
Exhibit sponsors are The Denver Foundation, Institute of Museum and Library Services, NGAAP Charlotte, Blair Caldwell Branch – Denver Public Library, Denver African American Philanthropists (DAAP), Denver (CO) Chapter of The Links, Inc., and Sisterhood of Philanthropists Impacting Needs (SPIN).
Event host committee members are Eula and Janet Adams, Councilman Albus Brooks, Linda Campbell, Richela Das, Chrissy Deal, Myra Donovan, MaryAnn Franklin, Barbara Grogan, Eddie and Andria Koen, and Rich Lopez.
That’s why I’m energized about the upcoming panel discussion that my giving circle and the Gantt Center are co-hosting on National Philanthropy Day (November 15). It’s free and open to the public, so if you’re in the Charlotte or would like to swing through, I encourage you to come. But first, R.S.V.P.
Eric Frazier, writer for The Charlotte Observer and The Chronicle of Philanthropy, is moderator for this week’s panel discussion on giving circles and collective giving, which is part of a Black Philanthropy series. The panelists are friends and fellow members of Community Investment Network: Linsey Mills and Michelle Serrano Mills of Next Generation of African American Philanthropists; Barron J. Damon of A Legacy of Tradition; and Diatra Fullwood, Renee Bradford and Ed Franklin of New Generation of African American Philanthropists.
Learn more about the event on BGB and then come participate on November 15!
If you want to go fast, go alone.
If you want to go far, go together.
I hope you are well. I just wanted to share how Giving Back is reaching an exciting audience and making an impact on how we learn and practice philanthropy.
As you may know, I completed the 2012 Emerging Leaders International Fellows Program last year where my research project “The Value of Giving Circles in the Evolution of Community Philanthropy” referenced Giving Back. During the presentation of my research, I showed my copy of Giving Back and my peer Fellows and the Program administrators were very impressed.
A few weeks ago, I was invited to speak with the new cohort of Fellows about collective giving and giving circles. I thought it was the perfect time to present my gift copy of Giving Back (the one you signed). Needless to say, Barbara Leopold, Director of the International Fellows Program was delighted.
Attached is a photo of Barbara and the Emerging Leaders Fellows who have come to New York from across the globe to study community foundations and diaspora philanthropy.
With a roomful of 60 people to generate ideas and momentum, seven years ago today, 17 of us embarked on what was the founding of the giving circle New Generation of African American Philanthropists, also known as, NGAAP-Charlotte.
A great deal has occurred since our first gathering on June 8, 2006 at The Wadsworth Estate. The giving circle has ten additional members and we expect to add even more. Through grants, community service, civic engagement and leadership, NGAAP-Charlotte has invested close to $200,000 to nonprofits and the broader community to help create the change we wish to see. Our mission is: To promote philanthropy—the giving of time, talent and treasure—among African Americans in the Charlotte region, with the goal of enhancing the quality of life within our communities.
Below are members of NGAAP-Charlotte since 2006. The asterisks (*) indicate the 17 founding members.
Men Tchaas Ari*
Renee L. Bradford*
Heather Carty Ward*
Charles W. Thomas, Jr.
Gave away my soul.
Giving back to get it back.
Given what I know.
Today is the last day of National Poetry Month and year-round I love sharing bits of poetry that were inked for Giving Back, hence the haiku above. After considerable consternation, I granted myself license while writing Giving Back to begin exploring and eventually exhibiting my poetic sensibilities. The experience has been liberating and, at times, disorienting. Stepping out of your comfort zone and eschewing safety nets can be just as scary as it sounds. Nevertheless, I have chosen the high-wire act of expressing myself more freely as a writer, as a poet, as a public speaker and in various facets of my life. Some might call these acts, self-determination.
I have learned that setting inflexible frames about how things are “supposed to be” based on others’ rules and measures is limiting. As is clutching too tight to the unessential. These and a string of other epiphanies are revealed in my recent TEDx Talk, A Picture Reframed.
One week ago, a story on Ebony.com—the online version of EBONY Magazine—re-stirred my thinking about the concept of self-determination and the word license.
‘Young Black Philanthropist’ Is Not an Oxymoron is a piece written by Ebonie Johnson Cooper, a thought leader on African American millennial giving and civic engagement. In her Ebony.com story, Ebonie recounts an unexpected conversation that left her troubled, momentarily. It was one in which a woman questioned broad application of the word philanthropist and chastised use of the term for givers deemed of average or modest means. Philanthropy as exclusive domain for the wealthy is, alas, a still widely held belief.
Etymologically, philanthropy is about love. Ironically, most folks believe it’s only about money. The word is derived from philos, Greek for “loving” in the sense of benefiting, caring for, nourishing. So rather than bastardizing a word, as suggested by Ebonie’s inquisitor, we are in fact reclaiming the word and returning it to its root meaning—love. Philanthropy literally means “love of humanity,” as in caring about what it is to be human.
As Ebonie found out, work in the field of philanthropy often brings one in proximity to a preponderance of people who exhibit a pronounced preoccupation with all things pecuniary and of position, power and privilege. Peculiar perhaps, but in the realm of endowments and grantmaking there are those who behave as if endowed with super-human power and thus proceed passionately as grantors of status, licensors of labels, keepers of community gates and authorizers of civic value.
Convoluted social constructs and hierarchies, in the name of philanthropy, do not warrant investment. For me, philanthropy encompasses simpler kinds of kindness, generic acts of generosity and humility amidst concern for humanity—all the while being no less thoughtful, strategic or transformative. Love is plain, yet potent that way.
Ebonie and I and others are part of a new generation of philanthropists that spans generations, race, class, position, income and wealth. It includes members of Community Investment Network who are giving, collectively, through giving circles. It includes Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, author of Giving 2.0, a book that makes a case about the future of philanthropy and how “individuals of every age and income level can harness the power of technology, collaboration, innovation, advocacy, and social entrepreneurship to take their giving to the next level and beyond.” It includes Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP) which is “building democratic philanthropy.” And it can include you.
Ebonie made the case this way in her story:
“The more mirrors we see of ourselves as grassroots organizers, board members, and financial donors, the more we will be able to accept our place as modern-day philanthropists who look into our own communities and define for ourselves who we are and what needs to be done. If we don’t, someone else certainly will.”
True. Case in point, absent from tables in U.S. philanthropy are a representative share of African Americans, because we co-sign and are thus co-opted by a corrupted translation of philanthropist. As a community, African Americans have yet to tap our fullest power by determining ourselves assets within our communities, vital players in ending inequities and, yes, philanthropists. While we are free to claim ourselves philanthropists, ultimately the label is unimportant. It is care-full work, sustained generosity and a love of people that characterize a philanthropist.
Haiku introduces this piece and the poet shares what she’s come to know, the hard way. I am hopeful that we all will soon come to know the power of loving, understanding and respecting what it means to be human. At its essence, philanthropy requires no license, labels or limits.
Thankful 365: A Year-End Message from New Generation of African American Philanthropists
Without people like you, this year’s accomplishments would simply not have been possible. So we have something to say. In fact, we believe it cannot be said enough.
T H A N K Y O U !
You’re part of an extended circle who shares our passion for giving back. By investing our social capital, financial capital and intellectual capital, collectively, we are igniting a movement of conscientious philanthropy by empowering a generation to recognize its power and responsibility to give back.
High points from New Generation of African American Philanthropists over the last 12 months include:
- 6th anniversary of the NGAAP-Charlotte giving circle
- Giving Back named winner of the 2012 McAdam Book Award, as the best new book for the nonprofit sector, and listed among the “10 Best Black Books“
- Release of [ philanthropy reframed ], new voice, new vibe, new video
- Broad media coverage while reframing portraits of philanthropy, like here
- Civic engagement and dialogue in 17 communities with 5000+ people
- New circle members and new connections to circles in Charlotte and nationwide
We’re excited about how our giving circle is growing and serving and how the Giving Back Project is unfolding. We look forward to deepening our impact and engaging givers in new ways. You are invited to be a part of this work in 2013.
“A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.” — Gandhi
Six years. I still can’t quite believe this week marks six years since we set out to create a giving circle that would eventually become known as New Generation of African American Philanthropists. Scrolling through the slideshow of photographs below brings credence to the span of time and experiences from the start of our journey together, June 2006.
Much like a book club or investment club, a giving circle is made up of people who have common interests and shared values. In our case, we’re interested in contributing to positive change in our community. We’ve decided to pool our charitable dollars to award grants to nonprofit organizations having a desirable impact on large numbers of African American children, families and neighborhoods.
Our Soul | who we are
A giving circle that’s giving back
Our Mind | what we envision
A healthy, safe and prosperous community for African Americans to live, work and flourish
Our Heart | why we care
Inextricable ties to past, present and future generations
Our Hands | how we work
Promoting philanthropy—the giving of time, talent and treasure—among African Americans with the goal of enhancing the quality of life within our communities.
Founded in 2006 by a group of nearly 20 donor-members, New Generation of African American Philanthropists or, for short, NGAAP-Charlotte aspires to have an impact in Charlotte and beyond. Our grantmaking, community service and civic engagement activities have helped us build new relationships, strengthen existing connections and influenced our development as leaders, advocates, philanthropists and change-makers.
Here’s a numerical account of our six-year exploration of new ways, new ideas and new paths to making a difference:
1 dollar a day, at least, per year committed by members
5 years of member participation at planning retreats, leadership summits and conferences
6 nonprofits awarded grants to advance their missions
11 sponsoring partners, to date, on the Giving Back Project
13 connections to other CIN giving circles comprising donors of color, nationwide
17 founding members
18 months dedicated to starting up the circle with a thoughtful, sustainable plan
22 people pledged participation as members since the circle’s founding
40 media stories on collective giving & inclusive philanthropy, featuring NGAAP-Charlotte
72 months of pursuing a collective vision and mission
200 Black donors engaged to provide content for the book Giving Back
250 towel sets donated to men seeking shelter and comforts of home
365 book pages of stories and photography to reframe portraits of philanthropy
2200 audience members across 11 cities, 7 states engaged via the Giving Back Project
3000 social media connections via Twitter and Facebook
5500 volunteer hours…likely more…devoted to community service by circle members
10,000 dollars awarded to Jacobs Ladder, our largest single grant yet
40,000 dollars distributed in grants
100,000 dollars invested in reframing portraits of philanthropy
Through the Giving Back Project’s book development and community engagement campaign, members of NGAAP-Charlotte are reframing portraits of philanthropy. The circle ventures to reclaim the root meaning of philanthropy—love of humankind—by celebrating African American history and traditions. The group explores new as well as time-honored ways of giving and embraces a definition of philanthropy that encompasses gifts of not only money, but also time, energy and intellect.
Our collective work aims ultimately to ignite a movement of conscientious philanthropy by empowering a generation to recognize their power and responsibility to give back. Join our work by becoming a member or starting your own giving circle and by committing to philanthropy that’s strategic, inclusive and responsive.
Men Tchaas Ari
Renee L. Bradford
Heather Carty Ward
“Another resource is Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists by Valaida Fullwood. This beautiful book—that reminds us of the power of photographs and the truly human element of philanthropy—is one result of many years of giving circle work supported by The Ford Foundation, Knight Foundation, Foundation for the Carolinas and dozens of individual and other institutional funders. This is the kind of book I will go back to time and again. The people profiled are as generous in sharing their stories as they are in sharing the time and treasure. Collectively, the stories remind us of the role that mutual support and community play in philanthropy, the importance of faith traditions, and the pure joy that philanthropy can bring. Like Giving 2.o, Giving Back refocuses our attention onto the hundreds of millions of givers who are the real engines of philanthropy.”