Tag Archives: African American philanthropy

African American men uniting to support community nonprofit organizations

Part two of a two part series. Read part one here

African American philanthropyAfrican American men are pooling their money to create positive community change. The Ujima Legacy Fund brings together men who invest $1,100 and collectively increase their impact. Founder Reginald Gordon shares a few details so you can create a fund in your community. We pick up our interview with Gordon with a discussion about grantmaking.

“Once we have reviewed all of the applications, a representative group of Ujima men go visit the site of the most compelling applicants,” Gordon shared. “The next step is for those applicants to make a presentation to the entire membership. After the membership has heard from each of the top applicants, then the members vote. The agency with the most votes is awarded the grant. Last year, we gave $20,000 to Partnership for the Future (www.partnershipforthefuture.org). This year Ujima received proposals for funding from 23 applicants. We will vote on our 2014 grantee in mid May.”

The fund started through barber shop conversations, now “we are using word of mouth, email and social gatherings to spread the news about the Ujima Legacy Fund. We asked each member from last year to try to recruit two other men to join this year. We have been successful in asking for time on the agenda at regularly scheduled African American male networking events and meetings, like fraternity meetings. The response has been overwhelmingly positive.”

Joy has accompanied the process. “One of the unexpected joys is the renewed sense of brotherhood. We now have a band of brothers who have made a commitment to transform our community by financially supporting critical pathways to success for our young adults,” Gordon shared. “We actually have a Ujima Legacy Fund lapel pin that we wear to symbolize our unity of purpose. The word has spread around town that African American men in Richmond are coming together to give money to causes that they want to support. We definitely have helped expand and diversify the list of major philanthropic donors in Richmond. We have even inspired black women in Richmond to begin the process of creating their own giving circle. We have jokingly asked them to not raise more money than us their first year.”

Gordon suggests checking out information about the Ujima Legacy Fund on the Community Foundation of Richmond website. “Get a small group of men (no more than six) who want to champion the creation of a giving circle. Have this core group decide on firm goals and objectives of the giving circle. (Please feel free to use any language that you like from Ujima.) Find a fiscal sponsor and some organization that can help administer the fund. Then, go out and boldly recruit members for your giving circle.”

Learn more at www.bit.ly/UjimaLegacyFund.

Photo credit: The Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia. www.tcfrichmond.org

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.

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African American Men and philanthropy

African American men find a new way to give back

Part one of a two part series

Reginald Gordon, African American fundraising, African American male philanthropy, African American philanthropy, giving circles, how to start a giving circle

Readers of our column know we are supporters and promoters of women’s philanthropy including women’s foundations and giving circles. Mel likes to joke, “what about men’s philanthropy?” Now we have an answer: the Ujima Legacy Fund – an African American male giving circle. Knowing that men don’t want to be outdone by women, and that women want to support men, we bring you this interview with Reginald Gordon, one of the fund’s founders. In addition to supporting and growing African American men’s philanthropy Gordon is also the Chief Executive Officer of the Eastern Virginia Region of the American Red Cross.

Let’s start at the beginning. We asked Gordon about the events that led up to creation of the fund. “The Ujima Legacy Fund grew out of a series of conversations that we had in a barbershop,” he began. “A group of African American men decided to hold monthly conversations in a downtown barbershop a few years ago. The evening conversations attracted a cross section of men, from construction workers to college professors. We promoted the conversations by word of mouth. It felt like a Million Man March experience. We explored myriad topics that impacted the black community in Richmond, including the lack of black men involved in local philanthropy. A few of us decided to take action on the idea of getting more African American men involved in philanthropy. We kept on working on this idea after the cessation of the monthly barbershop conversations. We did research on black male philanthropy and decided that we needed to form an African American male giving circle. We named it the Ujima Legacy Fund. Ujima, the third day of Kwanzaa, means collective work and responsibility.”

While fundraising can be challenging, organizing how a fund operates can be even more complex. We asked Gordon to share how the fund operates. “We decided to keep the management of the Ujima Legacy Fund as simple as possible. The fund is open to any African American man who wishes to join. In order to become a member of the Ujima Legacy Fund, the man must contribute $1,100. Each member gets one vote, when it is time to select the grantee,” Gordon began. “The Ujima Legacy Fund has a partnership with the Community Foundation of Richmond for administration of the fund. The men of Ujima decided on the types of programs and agencies that would be appropriate for our funding. We agreed that we wanted to target our funds toward agencies that had credible educational programs designed to serve young adults. Prospective grantees apply for the Ujima Legacy Fund through the Community Foundation website (www.tcfrichmond.org.)”

Next week: grant making, and how to start your own fund.

Learn more at www.bit.ly/UjimaLegacyFund.

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.

Black Gives Back

Tracy Webb, women fundraisers, women philanthropists, next generation philanthropists, African American philanthropy, fundraising, BlackGivesBackIf you want to challenge your thinking on the relationship between African Americans and philanthropy you need to follow BlackGivesBack.com. Founded by Tracey Webb in 2007, BlackGivesBack.com takes the stereotype of African Americans as the recipients of others’ philanthropy and illustrates – with images and words – that African Americans are busy giving to diverse causes.

We met with Webb this past fall, and followed up with her recently, asking about the driving force behind BlackGivesBack. “I grew tired of not seeing the rich stories of African American giving in the media. We’re often stereotyped as recipients of philanthropy when in fact we give away 25% more of our income than whites. This has been documented by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Cultures of Giving report published in 2012. Black giving is what created many churches and institutions still in existence today.”

An active donor, Webb is also the founder of Black Benefactors, a giving circle in Washington, DC. She gives and encourages others to join together and increase the impact of their giving. “I have learned that while we want to give back, we may not have the knowledge on where to start or how to do it effectively to create desired change. By joining a giving circle, you can learn more in depth about needs in your community and how to give more strategically. I have observed in the past few years that this type of collaborative giving model is on the rise, especially among millennials.”

“One event that I have found inspiring is the annual Community Investment Network (CIN) conference. CIN is an organization that provides support and resources to giving circles in communities of color. As the founder of a giving circle, there’s something powerful about being surrounded by grassroots givers – everyday people committed to giving back in their communities. They are celebrating their 10th anniversary this October in Raleigh, North Carolina.”

Webb was inspired at an early age. “Philanthropists that are the most inspiring to me are my parents and family. I grew up in a family of givers and I was never told to give back. I learned it from watching them. I’m about to embark on researching my family history and I’m excited to learn more about the giving of my ancestors. I’ve heard some amazing stories!”

Webb is busy growing BlackGivesBack. “My hope and vision for BlackGivesBack.com is to revamp the site with new features and expanded content. I want it to serve as a hub for learning about issues impacting our community and the organizations and individuals committed to addressing them. And as our buying power continues to increase, I hope that readers will include giving in their family budget to support non-profit organizations in addition to their place of worship.

Learn more at www.BlackGivesBack.com and www.thecommunityinvestment.org.

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.