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A New Giving Circle That is Exclusively Funding Black-led, Black-Serving Nonprofits

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Via Inside Philanthropy

By Alyssa Ochs

According to a report out last month, giving circles are becoming more diverse in terms of race, gender, and income levels and more popular among people of color. That finding tracks with our own coverage of giving circles across the U.S., where we’ve noticed that groups that have felt marginalized by mainstream philanthropy—like Asian Americans—are banding together to mobilize resources on their own.

What’s happening in Philadelphia is a case in point. A couple years ago, the Philadelphia African American Leadership Forum organized a study that found that compared to white-led nonprofits, black-led nonprofits tend to be smaller, have less access to funding sources, and have fewer cash reserves to use to support their missions. However, these black-led nonprofits are also more likely to track their data and have more diverse boards, which are both characteristics that funders of all kinds are striving for these days.

This shortfall in support—or what one critic has described as “a clear philanthropic redlining of African-American communities”—isn’t confined to Philadelphia. It’s a larger problem that we’ve discussed in the past. As Nat Chioke Williams, the executive director of the Hill-Snowdon Foundation, told us last year: “It has often been easier or more allowable for philanthropy to support white-led organizations working in black communities than black-led organizations.” That tendency in philanthropy, Williams said, reflects “a natural trend in the cultural history in the United States to push black people off to the margins.” 

Earlier this year, local civic leaders and philanthropy professionals launched the Philadelphia Black Giving Circle to distribute pooled funds to nonprofits in the Philadelphia area that are black-led and black serving. Sidney Hargro, ED of Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia, said:

Historically, the black community has always valued the giving of money, goods, and time to support worthy causes, though the term “philanthropy” was not necessarily used to describe these efforts. The Philadelphia Black Giving Circle will be a formal catalyst that builds on this rich tradition to create and scale social change in our region.

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