Black Philanthropy: Why We Do What We Do


Last week we were asked via twitter ‘why we only highlight black philanthropists’? At first we were startled someone would actually ask this but then we took it as the perfect opportunity to further articulate part of our goal: to give the community work and leadership of young black philanthropists a platform.

Look around the internets. Name a place do-gooders like you can tell your story, or engage with other black civic leaders or find resources that are created with you in mind. You can’t. We are it. So yes, starting in September, every first Friday we will proudly and unapologetically highlight young black philanthropists. As Christal Jackson, founder of Head and Heart Philanthropy would say, “we can’t afford not to.”

If you followed our Twitter timeline Friday and Saturday, you know we attended the the Head & Heart Philanthropy Summit on Martha’s Vineyard. The Summit was an opportunity for black social entrepreneurs to come together, learn and dialogue about issues affecting us in the philanthropic space and begin to create solutions regarding these issues.

We learned at the Summit, philanthropy literally means a love for humanity. The act then of being philanthropic encompasses time, money, energy; and most importantly, accountability. When you say you are a philanthropist, you become accountable for the sector, group, and/ or organization you support. You can’t be a philanthropist without being informed, aware and driven.

Here are just a few stats we learned at the Summit:

  • 46% of African Americans live in poverty
  • 50% of African Americans make less than $40K
  • 2 million black men don’t have HS diplomas
  • The median net worth of African American household is $5,677

With stats like these the urgency to create change is ever present. These aren’t problems a grant from XYZ Non Profit can solve, these (and others) are heartbreaking issues we have to solve from within. We have to understand what is going on in our communities- outside our new found Buppie worlds- so we can be at the policy making tables. We can’t simply rely on other websites or media platforms to tell our stories, we have to be able to tell our own stories. And quite frankly, we don’t have enough wealth among us to ignore the urgency of the next generation of black philanthropists. (By the way, the stark realities of black wealth- or lack thereof- are just…we have got to do better.)

The Head and Heart Philanthropy Summit enlightened us to the significance of knowing and understanding the giving space, the policy space, and the education space that affect the impact of philanthropy. It is irresponsible as a philanthropist and social entrepreneur to give your time and money to causes you: a. don’t know much about b. don’t know how to change c. don’t know how your resources can really make a difference. As young leaders now is the time to equip ourselves with the tools and resources to endure the fight to make our communities what they need to be to survive. We, Friends of Ebonie, are taking up the charge to be the arena that enables you to be at the top of your game. It is our goal to teach, educate and inspire us in every way we can; that includes highlighting the work our peers are doing.

We do what we do because we’re called to do it. We aren’t knocking our other young philanthropic sisters and brothers. In fact we understand how important it is to have our networks filled with a diverse population. However, on Friends of Ebonie we celebrate young black philanthropy and we’re excited about it!

The Head and Heart Philanthropy Summit was unlike any other gathering of great minds. It was a room filled with influential people who actually want to help one another. This time it was in the name of philanthropy- black philanthropy- and it felt amazing. There’s a lot happening in our arena from policy to wealth management to youth and education, but there’s still so much left to do. It’s going to be left up to us to do it. We’re ready. Are you?

Before we let you get back to your regularly scheduled day, take a look at this great 2.5 minute video about the new black philanthropist. Philanthropy Reframed: is the video trailer for the Giving Back Project and its centerpiece publication, theĀ 400-page hardcover book “Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists.” Learn more and buy the book here. *waves* to our twitter friend @ValaidaF. Catch the entire post on Black Gives Back.

8 thoughts on “Black Philanthropy: Why We Do What We Do

  1. Hey Ebonie! I love this. I need to read more of this, and should check out that book you referenced. I never considered philanthropy when it comes to our people. We’re good at giving our time and our money – when we often don’t have either to spare. It’s inspiring to know there’s a whole… circle? of us who do this professionally.

    1. Oh yes, ma’am! Philanthropy is becoming a profession- full and part-time. We love that so many of us are crafting our lives to be professional givers or even social entrepreneurs. It’s an area where there aren’t many of our faces but there will be! …Thanks for reading…stay tuned for more great stuff!

  2. Good stuff team.

    For years, I will say that my philanthropy was ‘anonymous’ for lack of a better word. I didn’t want to be guilty of giving for the wrong reasons or lacking humility. My balance is better today as I know that what we do serves to inspire and model the behavior of others. With the popularity of the word ‘philanthropy, I have this conversation quite a bit.

    QUESTION: FOE, what advice, lessons learned, approach suggestions… can you give for others trying to find their own personal balance?

    Personally, I want to know who’s giving so I can celebrate them and also be inspired.

    Follow me! @CMediaUSA
    -Gee James

    1. “I know that what we do serves to inspire and model the behavior of others.”….That’s precisely it Gee. We need to know to erase the stigma of the word philanthropy/ philanthropists. We are a part of the next generation so we have to make loud moves.

      Re: work/ life balance…. Lol. Still learning for sure. But we’re doing a webinar on this very topic on the fall. Stay tuned.

  3. Great article you are not only inspiring but challenging members of our community to take charge through giving of our money (no matter how little), time and service. I applaud your commitment and dedication! Thanks for the video on the book I will make that purchase. Keep up the good work!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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