National Council of Black Philanthropy
By Nina Bowser
Graduate Student, Grand Valley State University (Fall, 2005)
The mission of the National Council of Black Philanthropy is ”to promote giving and volunteerism among African Americans, foster full participation by African Americans in all aspects of philanthropy, educate the public about the contributions of Black philanthropy, strengthen people and institutions engaged in Black philanthropy, and research the benefits of Black philanthropy to all Americans” (The Foundation Center).
The National Council of Black Philanthropy is a united effort of black executives to provide a national resource for the black community to have a voice in decision making in how foundations, charities, and nonprofit organizations address the specific needs of the African American community and other minorities and poor.
As early as the 1700s through the mid 1900s African Americans have been involved in philanthropy. With this philanthropic spirit they have created and established social services, education program and charitable organizations (Hunt 1998). However, even with an upward movement to promote African Americans and improve their communities through acts of philanthropy, Black philanthropy was not given the credit it deserved.
In the mid 60s and early 70s African American began a strong advocacy movements to gain access not only to civil rights, but also to privileges and resources within the business community. Blacks during this time were fighting for the right of African American business professionals to have a voice in the decision-making, policy development and resource distribution of money and services within communities that specifically dealt with African Americans, other minorities and the poor. One way that leading African American businessmen saw to advocate for more inclusion was to demand access to the Council on Foundations. This organization at the time was the leading organization for philanthropists to engage in major decision making, grant making and obtaining institutional resources to address the needs of people in communities that were struggling with poverty and other social problems. However, there were no blacks on the Councils board of directors that could represent blacks and other minorities.
In 1971, eight black philanthropic executives, during the annual conference of the Council on Foundations in Canada, protested for the inclusion of African Americans representation on the Council’s board of Directors (A Philanthropic Partnership 2005). They demanded that black professionals that were committed to philanthropy that addressed the need of minorities and poor have a voice in the decision-making and resources allocation in these communities. They also fought for more black professionals giving their expertise on foundation staff, decision-making and grant making to local communities trying to improve the living conditions of the minorities. From this meeting the National Council of Black Philanthropy was created and has been a driving force for the African American community as well as a great resource for other minorities involved in philanthropy.
The National Council of Black Philanthropy has been a leading force in making sure that Blacks as well as other minorities involved in philanthropy and other charitable giving have adequate resources for assistance in improving the social problems within their communities. They have created countless resources such as magazines, papers, and resource journals to assist fellow philanthropists in keeping in the tradition of giving back to their communities. They have advocated for strong black leader and representation on the behalf of individuals to ensure that adequate resources are being provided to the African American and other minority communities.
Since its establishment, hundreds of foundations and other charitable organizations committed to philanthropy have been created to assist in helping the Black community. For example organizations such as the United Black Fund, 21st Century Foundation, Oprah Winfrey Foundation, Tiger Woods Foundation and the Magic Johnson Foundation have made over 24 millions dollars available specifically to improve black communities by creating programs for education, health care, arts, youth development, elderly, and the homeless. These donors can support the black community because of the important work that the National Council of Black Philanthropy provides in the form of advocacy and resources.
Ties to the Philanthropic Sector
Since its creation, the National Council on Black Philanthropy has provided a voice for the specific non-profit sector, which is committed to improving the health and welfare of the African American community. Being a leader in advocacy and decisions and policy making, the non-profit sector has been the contributor of a wealth of benefits and resources.
This has been the method by which many non-profit organizations access useful information regarding, new and innovative ideas on grant making, increasing donor support, accessing philanthropic supports, and effectively utilizing guiding principles and best practices in service delivery.
With the growing need for collaboration, accountability, transparency, donor sustainability, long-term financial planning, and capacity building within non-profit organizations, the National Council on Black Philanthropy will need to continue to be a strong voice for the leaders in African American community that is committed to philanthropy and charitable giving (Brand-Williams 1999).
There has been growing interest in African American philanthropy in general and in the growth that this sector is achieving as it relates to the non-profit sector. As the Foundation Center in Atlanta (2005) states, “there has been a increased scholarly focus on African-American philanthropy, and a growing number of African Americans are making large gifts, and are creating foundations and endowments to channels their philanthropy.” The non-profit sector has the opportunity to access this growth to enhance the program and services delivery that it provides to the Black community.
Key Related Ideas
Transparency: This refers to the philanthropic community and the non-profit organizations that it supports, making available to the public ways in which they spend their funds and for what services.
Accountability: This term deals with the philanthropic community and the non-profit organizations that they support needing to be more accountable with the resources they are given. It also requires agencies to utilize effective strategies in program development, service delivery, and in measuring outcome goals and objectives.
Planned Giving is a term that deals with the idea of African American donors and non-profit benefactors strategically setting up long-term funding sources for organizations that are committed to serving the African American community.
Endowment building is one current strategy that the African American philanthropic community is advocating. Endowment Building is an idea referring to agencies’ accessing gifts from donors that will sustain the organization long term rather than only short term or a limited term of monetary support. (Winters 1999)
Important People Related to the Topic
- Erica Hunt (1955-): The executive director of the Twenty First Century Foundation which aims to promote community revitalization within the African American community by offer grant money.
- Rodney Jackson (1951-): the president and CEO of the National Center for Black Philanthropy whose goals are to promote giving and volunteering among the African American community. Another goal is to promote to educate Blacks about the importance of philanthropy.
- James A. Joseph (1940-): Is one of the eight Black executives who advocated for the inclusion of African Americans on the Council of Foundations board of directors in 1971. As a result of his persistence, he went on to form the first and oldest Council of Foundations affinity group, A Philanthropic Partnership for Black Communities.
- The African American Women’s Fund is a national philanthropic initiative launched by a group of black women to support organizations and individuals that work for the education and empowerment of African American women. Organized as a donor fund, it operates under the auspices of the Twenty-First Century Foundation (www.21cf.org/aawf.html).
- Association of Black Foundation Executives is located in Indianapolis, Indiana and is dedicated to encouraging increased grant making that addresses issues and problems facing African-Americans, and promoting the number and status of African Americans in philanthropy.
- Black United Fund incorporated in 1971, with the mission of creating, supporting and sustaining African American social, economic cultural and educational institutions through the enhancement of African American philanthropy. It acts as a coordinating and planning body designed to assist local black united funds and other national black organization with their fundraising efforts (www.nbuf.org).
- Council of Negro Women is dedicated to improving the quality of life for African American women within their family and community. The main goals are to promote advocacy and community-based programming. They have organizations in the United States, Egypt, Senegal and Zimbabwe. The National Council of Negro Women has an outreach to four million women. It has Consultative Status at the United Nations (www.ncrw.org).
- National Center for Black Philanthropy was created with the mission of promoting giving and volunteering among African Americans, of supporting organizations and institutions involved in black philanthropy, and of educating African-Americans and others about the importance of philanthropy (www.ncfbp.net).
- A Philanthropic Partnership for Black Communities is a organization that was founded in 1971 dedicated to promoting initiatives to strengthen the effectiveness of philanthropic professional and institutions whose purpose is addressing issues facing the black community through advocacy and resource development (www.abfe.org).
Related Web Sites
The Council of Foundations’ Website, at www.cof.org, acts as a coordinating agency that provides information to the philanthropic community in terms of developing guiding principles in the area of stewardship, accountability and transparency and other issues related to philanthropy.
The Guide Star Website, at www.guidestar.org, contains information about many organizations dedicated to philanthropy. They offer tools and best practices strategies on how to increase donor base, community collaboration and other related topics of interest to the philanthropic community.
The Foundation Center Website, at www.fdncenter.org, contains information about many organizations that practice effective philanthropy to the African American community and as well other communities. It offers a wide database of philanthropy, which includes journal articles, books, and other literature for those involved in philanthropy to help them keep abreast in the field.
Bibliography and Internet Sources
A Philanthropic Partnership for Black Communities. Accessed 30 November 2005. www.abfe.org.
Brand-Williams, Oralandar. “Black philanthropy grows.” The Detroit News. [cited 30 November 2005]. Available from www.detroitnews.com.
The Foundation Center-Atlanta. Accessed 30 November 2005. www.fdncenter.org/atlanta/.
The Foundation Center. Talking About Philanthropy. Accessed 30 November 2005. www.fdncenter.org/washington/spotlight//dc_spotlight_022004.html.
Hunt, Martin S., and Jacqueline E. Hunt. The History of Black Business. Chicago: Knowledge Express Company, 1998, ISBN: 0966522109.
Winters, Mary-Frances. “Reflections on Endowment Building in the African-American Community”. The Council of Foundation Journal, 1999: 107-145. In ProQuest [database online]. Accessed 15 October 2005. Available from Grand Valley State University Libraries.
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