“LOVE wall” pic from The Soul of Philanthropy exhibit at JCSU.
Someday at Christmas man will not fail
Hate will be gone and love will prevail
— Stevie Wonder
A holiday fave. Take a listen!
Have a Wonder-filled Christmas!!!
“Drawing with light” is beautifully both a literal and metaphorical description of taking photographs. Our upcoming photography exhibit draws inspiration from that definition as well as from the root meaning of philanthropy: love of what it means to be human. Each a potent concept on its own, combined, these ideas are fueling the design and programming for Giving Back: The Soul of Philanthropy Reframed and Exhibited. A powerful experience awaits gallery visitors and program participants in 2015. Expect an exhibition of humanity where the images glow, the stories enlighten and your soul is set afire.
Sharing love for the holidays. And anticipating the arrival of an exceptional new year!
That luminous part of you that exists beyond personality–your soul, if you will–is as bright and shining as any that has ever been….Clear away everything that keeps you separate from this secret luminous place. Believe it exists, come to know it better, nurture it, share its fruits tirelessly. — George Saunders
Keeping it simple today with a video…particularly since a picture speaks a thousand words and since music begins where words end.
(there’s music so check your volume)
Radical simply means ‘grasping things at the root.’ — Angela Davis
Let’s engage in the radical work of reclaiming the root meaning of philanthropy: love of humanity. Philanthropy, a curious word to many, evokes a range of images, beliefs and emotions. To contemplate its semantics and evolution and then to initiate anew our collective philanthropic practice could prove a seminal undertaking for black America.
This moment hangs ripe. The “season of giving” is near and clears the way to a new year of possibilities. The election of President Barack H. Obama has substantiated, again, the might of black unity. And yet, between the hopes and history making and the thanks and gifts giving are uncharitable acts and vitriol that signal a shift back in time, not forward. Indignities, inequities and injustices do not simply dissipate; instead, we must come together in systematically uprooting them.
With community needs great and the need for unity greater, the times beckon a new era of conscientious philanthropy rooted in a love for community and expectations of social change. Let this generation, both young and old, embody a social transformation with bold recognition of our power and responsibility to give back.
Philanthropy is a gateway to power. It is a chief means to acquiring, sustaining and strengthening our status—economically, politically, socially and spiritually. Our ancestors knew this. They originated and supported systems for giving and assisted members of the community, whether neighbor, stranger or kin. Remarkably, a fundamental source of our progress at times seems forgotten.
Remembering our long and prolific history of philanthropy is crucial. Historical accounts of black largesse and examples of culturally significant vehicles of giving abound. Look up the Free African Society, an 18th century mutual aid organization established by Richard Allen and Absalom Jones. Study the social justice philanthropy of the legendary Madam CJ Walker. Before the Civil War, up through the Civil Rights struggle and after, our forebears charted paths and lay blueprints for progress. While the impulse to “give back” lives on in the community and opportunities exist to bring new twists to old traditions, this work must be encouraged and nurtured.
In the starkest of ironies, black Americans give the highest percentage of discretionary income to charitable causes when compared to other racial groups in America; and yet our philanthropy is discounted and overlooked by mainstream society. Indeed, within the black community, our traditions of giving are seldom acknowledged or celebrated, or even described as philanthropy. Absurd as it is, this cultural disconnect persists for many reasons and shortchanges us all.
Ideas and images of present-day philanthropy frequently fail to resonate and, worse yet, serve to alienate black Americans. Particularly unsettling is the stunning absence of black people in representations of philanthropists—a few select luminaries notwithstanding. A point of view endures that renders black donors and benefactors, in effect, invisible. The familiar picture of philanthropy is narrowly framed and thus gives a false impression that the only giving that matters is beyond the average person’s means.
On the demand side of philanthropy—as beneficiaries and “the needy”—is a common context for depictions of black children, families and communities. While but one facet of philanthropy, imagery around whites as the benefactors and blacks as those in need has devolved into a stubborn stereotype and produced a picture that distorts and is incomplete.
A richer picture exists. Widening the lens to include our customs and stories of giving yields a different view. Vibrant philanthropy is occurring in black communities, whether labeled as such or not. Even so, great promise rests in sharpening our focus to affect social change. Collectively, black America possesses the assets—heart, head, heritage and dollars—to eradicate a host of social ills. With our legacy of generosity, our shared stake in change and our capacity to leverage centuries-long gains in wealth, education and access, how could we not?
Exercising this power first requires a shift in thinking and wider recognition of the power of black philanthropy. Strategic alliances among black donors, across black communities and with institutional partners also are vital.
Significant in seizing the moment and sustaining the effort is love. Love of family. Love of culture. Love for thy neighbor as thyself. In its truest sense, philanthropy is rooted in love. Advancing social change with that spirit opens opportunities for everyone to participate and fixes the focus on liberating people not elevating oneself.
Putting our money where our heart lies. That is the charge. Begin doing your part today by deepening your knowledge of philanthropy, by examining your motivations for giving and by joining with others to grasp at the root causes of our collective concerns—for love.
“To whom much is given much is expected. This biblical passage from the Gospel of Luke conveys a belief that I and many of my African American family and friends hold dear. Many of us recall a defining moment or childhood lessons that influence our philanthropic giving.”
I’ve opened with these lines from Giving Back to say thanks to many of the people who gave their time, talent and treasure during the development of the book. The word cloud below is yet another way of giving props….as was done here too.
“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
“The messages in your book and the work of the Community Investment Network are critical today. Local African American donors and others are replicating the early investments that our ancestors made in building the United States. 21st century technological innovations and the resulting economic shifts obligate us to rebuild our communities from the inside out. We must all invest in places where we live, work and worship—the places that we love.
“Thank you for reminding each of us that strong democratic communities require all to give time, talent and money. Our families, institutions and communities are depending on us.”
“Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.” — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.