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Black Philanthropy Month: Celebrating and Engaging Black Philanthropists

By Kittie Fahey, Senior Vice President, Individual Giving

Although I’ve been in the development field for 30 years, it wasn’t until only 15 years ago when I was fortunate enough to attend a conference focusing on the philanthropic values of cultures different than mine, that challenged me to expand my thinking. The sessions focused on Black, Indigenous, Asian, and Jewish communities, and what an ah-ha moment! As a white woman working in philanthropy, I’ve been on a continuous journey to learn more about and become more deeply engaged in the topic of Black philanthropy, so I am thrilled to celebrate the generosity of these donors this month – and every month.

Greater Twin Cities United Way’s vision is a community where all people thrive, regardless of income, race or place. With equity and inclusion at the center of our work, we unite changemakers to fuel lasting change in our region. United Way is proud to recognize Black Philanthropy Month and celebrate year-round the contributions of Black giving and the importance of investing in Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian and People of Color.

Greater Twin Cities United Way’s impact in the community could not be possible without the engagement, dedication, and generosity of our donors. In my role, I lead our team of donor advisors who work directly with United Way’s individual donors. Some of our most generous philanthropists are inspired to co-create transformational solutions to our community’s biggest challenges.

What It Means to “Give Back”

When we talk about “giving back,” we often reference people giving gifts of their time (volunteering), talent (skills and/or expertise) or finances.

People of Color typically are more likely to contribute anonymously or give directly to friends, families or acquaintances in need, and as a result, their generosity often isn’t recognized publicly, sometimes creating misperceptions about their impact. In fact, research shows Black Americans give a larger percentage of their wealth to charities than any other racial group. Research also shows that when looking at the percentage of high-net-worth households that give back, Black households are the most generous: 92 percent of African American households give to charity compared to 90 percent of white households, 89 percent of Hispanic households and 85 percent of Asian American households.

Engaging More Black Philanthropists

Development staff connect donors’ passions with the mission of the organization and the needs of the community, which is the essence of community-centered philanthropy. Greater Twin Cities United Way offers many ways for people to get involved as changemakers, whether as a donor, volunteer or advocate. And because a higher percentage of Black donors give to human services and religious affiliations than donors of other races, Greater Twin Cities United Way may be a great match.

Thanks to Justin Butler and other members of our Board, we have  developed strategies for inviting more Black donors and People of Color to consider getting involved. Some of those include:

  • Conducting listening sessions with internal and external stakeholder; to inform decision making and to target and refine messaging
  • Hosting road Shows to share United Way’s opportunities with external social groups
  • Joining the Minnesota Business Coalition on Racial Equity
  • Exploring targeted fundraising efforts in partnership with organizations such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities, 100 Black Men, and the United Negro College Fund

We also continue to revise our fundraising processes with diverse audiences in mind, creating a fundraising and donor prospecting process grounded in inclusion and racial equity that will incorporate more Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian and Donors of Color. In support of this, we are:

  • Analyzing our existing donor records to set a baseline regarding race, ethnicity, age and sexual orientation against which we will continuously improve.
  • Refreshing our Giving Communities – which are created and led by community volunteers – and restarting Emerging Leaders

The philanthropic landscape is constantly evolving, especially by a younger and more diverse group of donors who are reshaping the future of giving, which is exciting and inspiring. Have an idea for how to celebrate and engage Black philanthropists? Please share it with me in the comments.

Learn more about United Way’s commitment to equity.

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