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Teaming Up: Black Benefactors & the Catalogue (Part II)

By Tracey Webb, Founder, The Black Benefactors

In January, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation published the report, “Cultures of Giving: Energizing and Expanding Philanthropy by and for Communities of Color,” which confirmed something that I already knew: African Americans are more inclined to give than other races. I know this because philanthropy and charitable giving have been mainstays of the African American community for centuries.

In my previous GoodWorks post, I shared how my giving circle, The Black Benefactors, used the Catalogue to identify a grantee for our Black History Month grant awards. In doing so, I learned that we were in the minority. Although many of the nonprofits featured in the Catalogue serve low-income and under-represented communities — often which include African Americans — the majority of donors who use the Catalogue to identify nonprofits to support in the DC region are white. With the help of The Black Benefactors, I hope this will change.

Now that we know African Americans are more likely to give, there are two issues that are essential: ensuring that our giving is strategic to achieve maximum impact, and making sure that we’re represented as volunteers and board members with nonprofits that serve communities of color. It’s important that the clientele served by nonprofits see staff, volunteers, and board members who look like them. The Catalogue is an ideal vehicle to address these issues.

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Teaming Up: Black Benefactors & The Catalogue

By Tracey Webb, Founder, The Black Benefactors

During a recent convening in Washington, DC that focused on issues impacting the black community, a panelist stated, “Black people are more philanthropic than other communities, but we’re not strategically philanthropic.” After reading that comment on Twitter, I thought back to the many conversations I’ve had with my peers who echo the same sentiment. As the founder of The Black Benefactors, a giving circle that provides grants and support to nonprofits that serve the African American community in the DC region, I hope that my giving circle will address this issue, and to date, we have.

How we give back is simple: Members pool our monies and time, and then we decide collectively where to give them away. Since 2007, we’ve granted $11,500 to six organizations that provide mentoring, youth development, college readiness and the arts. Research has shown that members of giving circles give more, give more strategically, and are more engaged in their communities. Specifically, research found that giving circle members are more likely to conduct research to help decide which nonprofit to support, support general operating expenses in addition to or instead of specific programs, check organizational performance data, take into consideration cultural differences and race, class and/or gender when making funding decisions, and make multi-year gifts. These are all hallmarks of strategic giving, and we incorporate these practices into our own grantmaking. So how does the Catalogue for Philanthropy fit in to this?

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Put Me In, Coach!

“Our work is very individualized for each client, but many people want to be more strategic, more proactive. We serve as a sounding board, as well as provide information … The coaching role comes into play more when someone wants to go down a distinctive path, developing a strategy with measurable impact.”

- Lisa Philp, JP Morgan Private Bank

Sound like solid and standard advice from a wealth manager? Turns out, Philp is not talking about buying stocks or investing in a start-up. She is talking about philanthropy.

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