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?