Nashville, Tenn.–February is Black history month and August is Black Philanthropy Month. We now have two months where the spotlight is – ideally – on the Black experience. February celebrates the rich diversity of who we are and our visions for the future. August is about how we give and contribute. There was – and still is – a way of looking at Black people and the Black community as being in need of investments by others. We are seen as the recipients of philanthropy, but until recently we weren’t widely celebrated as donors, let alone as philanthropists. But that’s why we have Black Philanthropy Month: to change the narrative.
But the needs of our community are year-round. And, as a community of philanthropists – with a history of giving our time, talents, and treasure – we have the opportunity to step up and make all 12 months more meaningful and impactful. Here are a few suggestions:
First, give back and give Black. Identify those organizations in your community – and nationally – who are Black-led and focused on improving the lives of Black people. Elevate and be consistent in your giving and engagement. Both are important – your time and your treasure. In terms of your treasure, “automate” your giving. Instead of giving when someone asks, or when a need is made known, identify the organizations important to you and set up a monthly contribution online so you don’t have to revisit your decision each month. Consider several organizations, set them up, and then focus on the giving of your time and talents. Whatever it is that you do everyday for work, that is your professional expertise, and we know its needed by others. Approach the organizations you are financially supporting, and “double your gift” with an offer of your expertise. Or share your talents and give of your expertise to another organization.
Take a moment to boast as well! Not about yourself, but about the nonprofits you support. Tell your friends and family. Post on social media. Invite others to give their talents, time or treasure. Be proud. And be proud of the nonprofit sector in general. Encourage our young people to pursue careers in nonprofit management, research, fundraising, advocacy, and service delivery. There are so many different types of nonprofits with so many different types of jobs. But they’re not always brought to the attention of our youth.
Here are a few more ways to live into our philanthropy. Make your involvement a family affair engaging all generations. Stop being so critical and be more supportive of the work of nonprofits: focus on being part of the solution. If you have the resources and connections, appropriately solicit individuals wealth, influence and power. Take a moment to include a nonprofit in your estate planning, or simply update the beneficiaries on an investment account to include a percentage to an organization that makes a difference in the Black community. And, as your salary – or business revenue – increases, make sure to increase your giving. Give Black – there’s no better investment.