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Does philanthropy benefit Black led nonprofit organizations? Are Black voices leading conversations on how to improve life for Black people? Are Black visions part of the city planning process? Coming together as leaders within the Black nonprofit community – in all our diversity – can be the first step in ensuring Black voices are leading how policy and funding shape the lives of Black residents, families, and communities.

As part of Black Philanthropy Month we wrote a column asking “are funders accountable?” As the year comes to a close, we share an example of how Black nonprofit leaders from across one community convened for a conversation on this topic. We share key findings and next steps in an effort to encourage you to begin talking about the intentional and unintentional impact – positive and negative – that philanthropy has on Black communities.

The following are excerpted from three documents published by the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis following the townhall convened by CFGM program officer Aerial Ozuzu. These are:  Black-led Nonprofit Town Hall Summary; Facilitators Reflections; and Black-Led Nonprofit Leadership Alliance. Supporting Ozuzu’s work were program officers from other local foundations who attended, wanting to hear the voices of Black nonprofit leaders. For full disclosure, we were asked to facilitate, an invitation we accepted as an honor. The links above share detailed information, including recommendations from participants of the town hall.

Here are the participant recommendations. Focus on Capacity Building: Participants recommended that local funders prioritize capacity building for black-led nonprofits. This includes leadership development, financial literacy, and support for administrative costs and infrastructure. Streamline Grantmaking: The grantmaking process should be simplified and made less burdensome for nonprofits. This includes reducing paperwork and administrative requirements. Multi-Year Funding: Participants suggested that funders commit to multi-year funding for organizations to provide stability and support long-term planning. Increase Diversity: Funders should work on increasing diversity not only within their organizations but also in terms of the areas of impact they support. Community Engagement: Funders should actively engage with the community to better understand its needs and priorities. They should also make an effort to recognize and appreciate the work of local organizations. Collaboration and Partnership: Encourage and support collaboration among black-led nonprofits to maximize their impact. Funders should also facilitate partnerships and provide platforms for sharing information and best practices. Trust-Based Philanthropy: Participants advocated for a shift towards trust-based philanthropy, focusing on qualitative data and possibility creation rather than strict quantitative metrics.

Importantly, CFGM is taking action based on what people said. The first is facilitation of the creation of a Black-Led Nonprofit Leadership Alliance to help identify and address Black defined priorities and to increase funding equity. The goal is to determine best ways to address racial inequities faced by Black-led organizations and to increase accountability transparency. One thing that has been made clear over recent years is that if you want to support Black people and communities you have to talk with and listen to Black voices. You can start the conversation in your community.

Copyright 2023 – Mel and Pearl Shaw of Saad&Shaw – Comprehensive Fund Development Services. Let us help you plan for 2023! Video and phone conferencing services are always available. Call us at (901) 522-8727.

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