If 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.
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.