Excellent Example

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Meka Sales honors her mother’s philanthropic legacy

“What are you doing to serve?”

In celebration of Women’s History Month, a tiny question with huge implications is shared from Giving Back. The question is from a story by Meka Sales in memory of her mother Shirley Oliver Nelson—an excellent example of generousness.

Read Meka’s full story: “An Excellent Example,” Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists (pp. 148-149).

On Opening in Oregon

— dimeji onafuwa (@casajulie) January 7, 2017

Friday night, The Soul of Philanthropy exhibit opens in Portland, Oregon!

Joy swells and overwhelms me when I think about evolution of an idea I had 10 years ago: to reframe portraits of philanthropy with love.

MRG Foundation is bringing the exhibition to Portland and mounting it at Concordia University. My friend Dimeji Onafuwa, the book designer for Giving Back and graphic designer for The Soul of Philanthropy, now lives in Portland and is this exhibition’s designer. Photos below show Dimeji and his team installing pieces in the library’s gallery space at Concordia. 

I’m grateful to all of MRG Foundation’s community supporters, which include: Concordia University, The Collins Foundation, Grantmakers of Oregon and SW Washington, KBOO Community Radio, Meyer Memorial Trust, Moda Health, Multnomah County Cultural Coaltion, The Oregonian Media Group, Spirit Mountain Community Fund, Street Roots and Willamette Valley Development Officers.

For MRG Foundation, presenting The Soul of Philanthropy is an opportunity to share its story publicly and welcome new supporters, donors and friends into its work. MRG believes that “giving is an act of social justice” and recognizes that throughout history communities whose needs are not being met by traditional sources eventually come together and build their own systems.

An aim of bringing the exhibition to Portland is making connections with individuals and groups who are rethinking philanthropy and building the structures and support they need outside of conventional means.

— VF

Roses For The Living

 

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My sister Diatra and me miraculously still standing and smiling after 72 hours of nonstop event prep, heavy lifting and rose wall creation for the Gantt Center’s 2016 Jazzy Holiday Gala.

This year the Jazzy Holiday Gala was organized around the idea of art & soul, conveying the unique and vital role the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture plays in Charlotte’s artistic and cultural scene and in the lives of youth, artists, educators, families and others, in communities near and far. Together at The Center was the evening’s mantra.

Jazzy is an elegant black-tie gala and major fundraiser of the Gantt Center. After three decades, it’s become a holiday tradition in Charlotte. For the past five years, I’ve been the creative strategist/event consultant for Jazzy. Photos from past events can be seen here and here and here. As with each year, I approached the event as a large-scale art project, beginning with an organizing concept through which an important narrative from the Gantt Center can be told. Then I built out the concept from the color palette to visual design to key messages and scripting to art forms and media to the presenters to the flow of the evening.

This year, art & soul emerged as perfect because the Gantt Center is a state-of-the-art building located in the heart of Charlotte, and it carries a mission to preserve African American culture and to present art in all its forms. Its location holds particular significance because it stands in what was once the thriving, predominately Black neighborhood of Brooklyn. In innumerable ways, the Gantt Center embodies Charlotte’s heart, art and soul.

On Saturday, December 3, more than 700 guests gathered at the Charlotte Convention Center and helped raise $300,000 to advance the Gantt Center’s mission, which keeps art & soul alive and thriving in Charlotte. The event’s Presenting Sponsor was Bank of America. Gala Co-Chairs were Dr. Tiffani Jones & Thaddeus Jones and Allison & Tim Atwell, who led a Host Committee that included: Ned Austin, Victor Fields, Joan Higginbotham, Charles Horton, Michelle Horton, Jerri Irby, Alene Paraison, Yandrick Paraison and Natalie Pittman.

2016 Spirit of the Center Award recipients were: PNC (corporate citizenship and partnership); Richard J. Powell, Ph.D. of Duke University (art and culture); and Mrs. Sarah Stevenson, a founding board member of the Gantt Center (philanthropy and community).

The gala opened at 6:00 pm with an hour-long cocktail reception and was followed by dinner, award presentations, art & soul impact stories, an appeal for membership, music by Al Jasper & Friends and dancing. Membership was the focus of the evening’s fundraising appeal. Throughout the evening, gala attendees were urged to becoming a new member,  renew a membership, upgrade a membership and “gift” membership for others. The aim was for every guest to purchase a membership.

A live rose wall served as the event’s focal centerpiece. Guests posed in front of a backdrop of 1,000s of red rose blossoms as photographer Jon Strayhorn took beautiful portraits (see some of Jon’s photos below). A wall of windows outside the ballroom were transformed into a photography exhibition with artful images by Ortega Gaines. A sleek program booklet comprised colorful photographs, indicative of the Gantt Center’s art & soul.

But one glorious night, Jazzy celebrates what the Gantt Center carries out nearly 365 days a year, why it has garnered community support for 42 years, and how it works to shape the future by engaging generation after generation. Whether it’s art and soul, young and old, global and local, or black, white and brown, we come together at The Center.

View the photo slideshow by clicking an image.

 

Philanthropy on Exhibit

Charles Thomas and me signing books at a recent exhibition of The Soul of Philanthropy at Duke University, which is Charles’ alma mater.

Six years ago, Charles and I began exploring the idea of an museum exhibition on philanthropy, based on the yet released stories and photography of Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists. While it took four years more, before we—in collaboration with NGAAP-Charlotte and Johnson C. Smith University—realized that vision with The Soul of Philanthropy Reframed and Exhibited, we’ll claim releasing seeds of this idea into the ethosphere.

Fast forward to a year ago, just after #GivingTuesday, I was reading this story in The Chronicle of Philanthropy about Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and David Rubenstein funding an endowed curatorship at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History (NMAH) to create a series of exhibitions on the history and future of American philanthropy.

Since the article referenced only billionaire white men (and a few women in the context of being their wives), I wondered whether the NMAH exhibitions would be narrowly framed to present only conventional and predictable pictures of “American philanthropy”. Would traditions of philanthropy in communities of color be told? Would the generosity and impact of people of modest means get included? Would stories of philanthropic women and giving circles be shared?

Quick to climb on my bandwagon, I reached out to learn more about NMAH’s “The Philanthropy Initiative” and to ask questions to ensure a vivid and inclusive and soulful account of philanthropy in America was an aim. Thanks to a network of kind connectors—A’Lelia Bundles, Aviva Kempner and Fath Ruffins—I made some gains.

So on this #GivingTuesday (and hopefully many more to come), I’m traveling to Washington, DC for “The Power of Giving: Philanthropy’s Impact on American Life”—an invitation-only symposium with philanthropists, environmentalists, thought leaders and social innovators to discuss the past, present, and future of American giving. Such programs are slated, annually, for decades to come and the focus this year is “Sustainability and The Environment”. Tuesday’s schedule launches with the opening of the Smithsonian’s first-ever, long-term exhibition GIVING IN AMERICA. We’re in the room, and there’s more to come.

“All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come.” — Victor Hugo

Below are more photos are from the exhibition of The Soul of Philanthropy Reframed (abridged edition) at Duke University’s Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture. Coincidently, the Duke University exhibition was made possible by support from financier David Rubinstein, who chairs Duke’s Board of Trustees and also is one of the funders of the NMAH exhibition.

Philanthro-Tee

Today’s Black Friday and with Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday coming up soon, take a look at these HEARTWORK t-shirts, modeled by the lovely Dr. Angela Logan.

You can give a gift with a message that helps give rise to a new generation of conscious givers. Inspired by The Soul of Philanthropy exhibit, HEARTWORK carries socially conscious messages, eco-friendly organic fabrics and artfully designed products.

Angela is the first person to purchase and then post photos of her HEARTWORK apparel via social media. She sported not one but two of my favorite t-shirts—the Giving Back tee and the Truth Be Told tee. Her tweets and pics from an ARNOVA conference in DC were right on time!

#getyourgiveon

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Socially Conscious Messages • Eco-Friendly Organic Fabrics • Artfully Designed Products

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Q: What Gives?

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A: The Soul of Philanthropy! #getyourgiveon

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National Coffee Day is the perfect occasion to share a preview glimpse of another item in the new heARTwork product line, which is inspired by The Soul of Philanthropy exhibit! Plus, I’m thrilled that The Soul of Philanthropy, Pop-Up, Abridged Edition will soon open at Duke University’s Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture.

My cup runneth over.

— VF

 

Inside Philanthropy Reblog :: A Rising Force: On the State of Black Philanthropy

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Sisters in Philanthropy breakfast event in New York for Black Philanthropy Month 2016

 

 

“The populist nature of black philanthropy underscores the need to look beyond foundations and major donors in thinking about how to spur greater African American giving. Because there are fewer big pots of wealth available, as is the case for white America, efforts to elicit higher levels of mass giving and better-targeted giving are key to nurturing black philanthropy as a rising force.”

READ THE FULL STORY: A Rising Force: On the State of Black Philanthropy – Inside Philanthropy – Inside Philanthropy (Source: Inside Philanthropy / Story by Ade Adenjii)

Inside Philanthropy Reblog :: Meet the Top 20 Philanthropists of Color

 

The new national museum of African American History and Culture

The nation’s ethnic landscape is changing, and by 2050, America will be majority non-white. These demographic shifts have implications for a wide variety of sectors, including philanthropy.

Continue reading

31 August Days

31 August Days Brady Bunch

Let me tell you about my giving circle!

Actually, let members of the circle tell you who they are and what we value in the slideshow below.

I value being a part of a group that embraces continual learning, awards grants to support philanthropic causes, engages diverse audiences to raise our collective consciousness,  advances social justice, seeks innovation and impact, explores a myriad of possibilities and supports each other while supporting our community.

For our 10th anniversary, members and friends of New Generation of African American Philanthropists engaged in #31AugustDays, a social media messaging campaign in observance of Black Philanthropy Month. The slideshow below is a compilation of the messages shared each day last month to elevate our culture of giving. An august group, celebrating an August of Black philanthropy. Enjoy! 

— VF

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Culture Is . . .

Black Philanthropy Month elevates a culture of giving! Read about past and upcoming happenings in Portland (OR), New York (NY), Columbia (SC) and other cities here.

See photos below from events coast to coast.


“Culture is the widening of the mind and of the spirit.” 

— Jawaharlal Nehru

 

Source: Culture Is . . .