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Celebrating commitment, love of community during Black Philanthropy Month

This month, we celebrate Black Philanthropy Month, a worldwide, month-long celebration of Black giving, launched in August 2011 by Jackie Bouvier Copeland and the Pan-African Women’s Philanthropy Network, now called Reunity.

Today, Black Philanthropy Month has grown to more than 19 million participants engaged across 60 countries.

This year, the celebration of Black philanthropy culminates on Aug. 28, National Black Giving Day, when people are encouraged to give to Black-led charities and organizations that strive to improve the quality of life for the African-American community.

There is much to celebrate. Nearly two-thirds of Black households donate to organizations and causes, totaling $11 billion each year, according to a W.K. Kellogg Foundation report. That’s more donations than any other U.S. donor group.

Rooted in a strong sense of accountability, commitment and love of community, Black giving has long been a part of American history. This strong heritage and culture of generosity dates back to mutual aid societies that were formed to assist the poor, unemployed, sick and widows with financial as well as moral support. These societies set high ethical standards for their members and are said to be the start of Black philanthropy.

Historically, Black churches have also been the catalyst and inspiration for giving, and, today, faith-based giving continues to hold a major presence in the Black community.

The Blackbaud Institute’s “Diversity in Giving” study found that religion, local social service organizations (e.g., shelters, food banks), children’s charities and health charities are the Black community’s main giving priorities.

“Half of this group says they donate to their place of worship more than any other nonprofit category. In addition, 75 percent of these donors say giving to their place of worship is important, far more than other donor groups. African-American donors say they give an average of 13 percent of their income to their place of worship, compared with 9 percent of donors overall.”

Generating awareness

With the advent of Black Philanthropy Month, awareness of Black philanthropy and Black-led nonprofits has gained momentum. More studies are being implemented and organizations designed to promote giving among Blacks and donors of color are forming nationally. For example, Giving Gap, a donor platform launched to bring greater awareness to the disparities in funding for Black-founded nonprofits was founded in September 2020.

In 2021, the BLK ED Network was formed to “empower Black Executive Directors as they navigate the systemic challenges in the nonprofit sector by providing access to the community, capital and equitable development growth opportunities.”

It first met in Baltimore in partnership with nonprofit resource group Maryland Nonprofits.

Additionally, a report by the Donors of Color Network on high-net-worth donors of color was released in early 2022. The report, “Philanthropy Always Sounds Like Someone Else: A Portrait of High Net Worth Donors of Color” surveyed and interviewed 113 donors of color, and revealed that donors of color contribute a total of $56 million annually to charity, with a median annual gift of $87,500. Their giving styles, priorities and ways to give were varied.

Trends in Black giving

Damika Baker-Wilson, director of Development for Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County, said that she has noticed a trend in the awareness of collective giving, in particular Black giving circles or the establishment of Field of Interest Funds.

“There’s definitely been a rise in Black collective giving over the last few years,” said Baker-Wilson, a member of Women of Color in Fundraising and Philanthropy. “This was motivated by the events in 2020, not only by the call to support social justice causes, but also by how the pandemic disproportionately affected communities of color – specifically Black and Hispanic communities. Giving circles or Field of Interest Funds that can be established through a community foundation like CFAAC exemplify the power in combined giving, which takes the individual act of giving and multiplies it to make a bigger impact in a community.

“Being a philanthropist is accessible to all and I believe that all donors – no matter what race – can assume a significant role in financially supporting the organizations that serve our communities,” adds Baker-Wilson. “I am honored to work with donors throughout Anne Arundel County, and I also understand the unique way in which communities of color want to and like to give. I am here to support donors as they work to fulfill their philanthropic goals.”

Mary Spencer is the president & CEO at the Community Foundations of Anne Arundel County. For more information about CFAAC, visit us online at or call us at 410-280-1102.

This story was originally printed in the August 15, 2022 edition of the CAPITAL GAZETTE.


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