One can give nothing whatever without giving oneself —that is to say, risking oneself. If one cannot risk oneself, then one is simply not giving.
In recent years, we’ve heard more and more information about Black giving. In a society where census forecasts drastic demographic shifts over the next decade with “brown” becoming the majority race in this country, this is a much needed conversation by all.
Why? Because we have bypassed entire generations of givers viewed through old stereotypes that cast minorities in this country as takers rather than givers. History, along with recent studies, have shown us that this assertion and others like it could not be further from the truth. In 2012, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation released a study titled, “Cultures of Giving: Energizing and Expanding Philanthropy by and for Communities of Colors,” acknowledging not only the long history of giving, but also finding that African Americans give a larger share of their income to charities than any other group.
This is an amazing assertion when we think of how we view the definition of “philanthropy” in our country. As a result, we understand the need to embrace the giving culture of Black families, patterns of giving and the need to build pipelines to support growing needs of the future. When we hear the word philanthropy, we typically think old, white, and wealthy. This couldn’t be further from the truth in the world of giving today and denotes the importance of efforts such as Black Philanthropy Month.
Recognized annually in the month of August, Black Philanthropy Month is a global celebration of Black American gift-giving in the form of time, talent, and treasure. This month-long effort doesn’t stop after August, but it utilizes this month to inspire Black communities and supporters of these communities to take this month to both recognize and promote the power of giving in ways that strengthen our own efforts and needs. Dispelling images of welfare systems, food stamps, and lost employment through that of choice as opposed to that of the inequities often imposed upon minority societies, Black Philanthropy Month encourages all to help others in whatever form they choose to better communities, thus bettering society as a whole.
Stories of the strength in giving to achieve common causes and to support families, friends, and religious institutions in the Black community are highlighted during this month to showcase the efforts of Black philanthropists to give in some of the most amazing ways. It is a fact that minority communities do not have the same level of disposable income as the majority, however, this fact has not and should not discourage Blacks from giving and being part of the support needed for positive impact.
Education is a critical mention when we talk about giving to support Black communities. It doesn’t just change people, education changes generations. This country’s history of utilizing reading and education as social control still has an effect on the Black community today. Giving to support future generations is important if Blacks are to ever fully overcome this dark time in our country’s history. Black Philanthropy Month provides images, stories, examples, information, and education on Black givers and how others can give.
It is an effort catching fire across the country since 2011 to increase both the amount of giving in Black communities and to increase the number of donors giving from the Black community and others supporting much needed causes. Whether it’s through mentoring, tutoring, or writing a check in support of underrepresented students, it all helps to move diverse populations forward to achieve better so that they can graduate and do better!
All diverse populations have to challenge the status quo in philanthropy, focus on themselves, build on the strengths of existing giving habits, and mobilize all to engage. The very definition of the word philanthropy is the practice of giving money and time to help make life better for other people. Making life better for other people will most certainly give a sense of fulfillment and make life better for one’s self in the process.
So please, embrace the rest of this month, risk oneself, learn, do something, and give in support of Black philanthropy!
Joyce Q. Rogers
Vice President for Development and External Relations
for Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs