Black Philanthropy Month (BPM), observed every August, is a global celebration and concerted campaign to elevate African descent giving. Created by Dr. Jackie Bouvier Copeland and the Pan-African Women’s Philanthropy Network (PAWPNet), BPM launched in 2011 to celebrate the United Nations Year and Decade for People of African Descent. Since its establishment, BPM has reached roughly 17 million people and has become an increasingly year-round, diasporic initiative. The initiatives highlight the creativity and transformative impact of generosity in Black communities. The primary focus of BPM is informing, involving, inspiring, and investing in Black philanthropic leadership to strengthen African American and African descent giving in all its forms, for the benefit of our planet, our communities, our organizations, and our lives. This year marks the 10th anniversary of Black Philanthropy Month, and the theme for 2021 is “TENacity: Making Equity Real.” To learn more about BPM check out: http://www.blackphilanthropymonth.com/about.
The Surge of Investing in Racial Equity and Social Justice
This year’s theme should not come as a surprise, as more and more organizations, companies, institutions, and individuals are forming new funds or commitments to increase giving in support of racial equity and social justice among Black leaders and in Black communities. Even well-known philanthropists, including some who have been critiqued in the past for the causes they are supporting, are stepping up in a big way by investing in racial equity and social justice movements. Here are just a few examples of how philanthropic donations are attempting to create change, involve, inspire, and invest in Black communities, both nationally and locally.
Investing in Black-led Organizations and Black People
Black Giving Circles are on the rise, particularly since the exposure of disparities from the pandemic, as well as recent examples of social unrest and the ongoing systemic inequities within the Black community. The Philadelphia Black Giving Circle defines Giving Circles as “individuals that come together around a common issue or cause and pool their collective charitable dollars to have greater impact.” In 2020, they successfully launched Philadelphia Black Giving Circle’s 2020 COVID-19 Response & Justice Black-led Fund. As we celebrate Black Philanthropy month, the Philadelphia Black Giving Circle realized their vision by creating a vehicle to support Black-led non-profits, programs, and projects on issues affecting Black communities.
Similarly, Philadelphia Foundation’s newly established Black Community Leaders Fund (BCL) fortifies Black-led nonprofit organizations serving Black communities in Greater Philadelphia to build leadership capacity. Like many other local and national efforts, these two Philadelphia, PA examples deserve recognition during Black Philanthropy Month for embracing the 2021 theme: TENacity: Making Equity Real.
Take the Ford Foundation’s $180 million in funding for U.S. Racial Justice Efforts, which doubled its funding support for U.S. based racial justice and civil rights groups creating structural litigation, policy advocacy, and grassroots organizing. This is another example of how Black Philanthropy is showing up across the nation, by getting to the root cause of systemic and institutional racism.
Along with the philanthropic sector, well known philanthropists and corporations are donating in record numbers, with billions of dollars in support of racial equity and social justice. Jeff Bezos, former CEO of Amazon, recently donated $100 million to Van Jones from his new philanthropic initiative, the Courage and Civility Award. According to Bezos, his intent is to “honor those who have demonstrated courage and tried to be a unifier in a divisive world.” He is joined by the likes of MacKenzie Scott, Tyler Perry, and corporations like Goldman Sachs. For instance, Goldman Sachs One Million Black Women, in partnership with Black women led organizations, has committed $10 billion of direct investment capital and $100 million in philanthropic support. These investments aid against generational gender and racial bias faced by Black women, an issue that has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
There are so many initiatives—too many to name—that are investing billions to address anti-Black racism. And there are many more examples to show how the philanthropic and corporate sectors, along with individual philanthropists, are stepping up to BPM’s theme of TENacity: Making Equity Real throughout the year. Let’s celebrate them all during August’s Black Philanthropy Month.
Who is giving to Racial Equity and Social Justice?
To get a snapshot of who and how many are giving to racial equity and social justice causes, check out the Candid.org special issue, Funding for Racial Equity. This issue includes racial equity funding since 2020, with recent updates as of July 21, 2021, along with a funding summary that details who is investing in, and pledging to fund, racial equity, where is that funding going, and more.
As we continue to see an increase of investments in Black-led and Black communities, our next step is to assess whether we have adequate data to measure the impact of these investments addressing racial equity and social justice. Perhaps that will be my 2022 Black Philanthropy blog topic! A year from now, as we continue to celebrate Black Philanthropy Month, will we make a difference?
Although this blog only highlights a few examples of philanthropic donations impacting the lives of black people and their communities, it is always good to pause and celebrate the many other activities, events, and investments happening during Black Philanthropy Month in August, TENacity: Making Equity Real. BPM officially launches August 1, and you can follow happenings throughout the month of August via social media with the hashtag #BPM2021. For the rest of the year, follow #BPM365.
About the Author: Vanessa B. Briggs, President & CEO. Twitter: @alliance_heq LinkedIn: @brandywinefoundation; www.alliancehealthequity.org
The Alliance for Health Equity is a philanthropic organization striving to advance a more equitable, resilient and healthy community for all residents of the Greater Coatesville area. We pursue our mission by providing grants and scholarships to local nonprofits and students that address health and economic disparities and social justice. We also build partnership programs and give voice to those often left out of community solution building to improve the overall health of their communities. 100% of contributions go directly to those in need.