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The Community Foundation Blog

Giving Black: Greater Richmond underscores passion and promise of Black philanthropy
By The Community Foundation / September 11, 2020
Giving Black: Greater Richmond underscores passion  and promise of Black philanthropy

Did you know that Black Americans give a larger percentage of their income to charity than any other group? Despite a rich tradition of giving that spans generations, Black and Brown communities tend to be underrepresented in conversations about philanthropy. Through the Giving Black: Greater Richmond initiative, The Community Foundation has partnered with the region’s African American giving circles, SisterFund and Ujima Legacy Fund, to change the narrative and uplift the power and influence of Black philanthropists.  

“Black giving is not new. It is now, and always has been, fundamental to Black life and culture.”

– Veronica Fleming, co-founder of SisterFund 

“Any time you give anything to anyone—time, talent, treasure—that makes you a philanthropist. The word ‘philanthropy’ might not be in our lexicon, even though we do it all the time. You just do what you can do, when you can do it, to help somebody.” 

– Dr. Monroe E. Harris Jr., member of Ujima Legacy Fund 

Even as individual giving continues to thrive – often personal, within neighborhoods and faith communities – new pathways to giving have emerged. Ujima Legacy Fund and SisterFund, established in 2013 and 2015 respectively, created an avenue for Black men and women to pool their resources for greater impact and specifically for the empowerment of Black youth and their families. Together, they make up a growing network of leaders who provide important thought leadership about how the Richmond region can build a more inclusive culture of philanthropy and apply a new lens of lived experience to address historic racial and social disparities. 

The Giving Black study, shepherded by researchers at New England Blacks in Philanthropy, was introduced in 2018 as an opportunity to study the trends, capacity and impact of Black philanthropy in Greater Richmond. With previous studies conducted in Boston and Cincinatti, Richmond became the first Southern city to participate and the first with a community foundation tied to existing Black giving circles. By embarking on the journey together, the Community Foundation, SisterFund and Ujima Legacy Fund found mutual benefit in uncovering new ideas and perspectives, building relationships, and applying the data to develop a full complement of giving and engagement opportunities. 

The Giving Black: Greater Richmond initiative was launched last August to coincide with the region’s first ever celebration of Black Philanthropy Month. Led by an advisory committee of 43 members from the business, education, government and nonprofit sectors and with staff support from Stephanie Glenn, recently named Vice President of Diversity and Engagement at the Foundation, the past year included extensive outreach that produced 600 completed surveys and dozens of personal interviews. Now, a year later and amidst heightened attention on racial and social disparities regionally and nationally, we are pleased to share a preview of the study’s findings at the second annual Black Philanthropy Month Summit hosted a few weeks ago. 

“Given the crises our nation currently faces, we are at a moment in our history where we must act with greater urgency and sharpen our focus on the important and unique perspectives of Black people who have contributed to the vibrancy of the Richmond region and beyond.”  

– Dr. Pamela J. Royal, first African American board chair of the Community Foundation

The Giving Black: Greater Richmond Impact Report provides a glimpse into individuals who participated in the survey and what motivates their giving. The survey captured input from 6 generations of Black Richmonders, ranging from Generation Z to the G.I. Generation. 84% of respondents have obtained a college degree or higher, while 25% of households reported charitable contributions totaling $5,000 or more in 2019. Thirty-three percent of respondents believe Richmond is a place of economic opportunity, and healthy equity is ranked as one of the top social issues they care about.  

"I have been honored to take this journey with so many trailblazers in our region. With their guidance and partnership, the Community Foundation is eager to elevate a narrative that serves to deepen relationships, welcome new ideas and include more color in philanthropy.” 

Stephanie Glenn, Vice President of Diversity and Engagement  

The Giving Black: Greater Richmond full report will be issued in November and promises to illuminate new opportunities for expanding Black philanthropy and creating a more inclusive giving community.   

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