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Black Philanthropy Month aims to recognize formal and informal giving

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August is Black Philanthropy Month, which celebrates all the ways in which Black people contribute to the care of others.

Dr. Jackie Copeland Carson and the Pan-African Women’s Philanthropy Network created Black Philanthropy Month in 2011. That same year, the United Nations recognized Black Philanthropy Month. The month was created to inform, inspire and invest in Black philanthropic leadership to strengthen African-American and African-descent giving in all forms.

“There is an African proverb called ‘ubuntu,’ which means I am because you are,” said Valaida Fullwood, organizer of the Black Philanthropy Month campaign. “Ubuntu is a proverb that shows that people are connected and that we cannot live without each other.”

Black philanthropy is a tradition that dates back to Africa. Madam C.J. Walker personified this tradition. While many know her as a successful businesswoman and the first Black woman millionaire, her philanthropic endeavors are not discussed as often. 

Tyrone Freeman, assistant professor at Lilly Family School Philanthropy at IUPUI, said although Walker is known for gifts and her work establishing a YMCA for Indianapolis’ Black community, she’s lesser known for turning her business into a social enterprise. Walker provided jobs to many African-American women when they could not find work because of Jim Crow laws. 

“Throughout history African-Americans have been informally doing philanthropy by sharing resources to help other African-Americans get by,” Freeman said. “Black philanthropy has played a central role in the survival of African-Americans.” 

According to “Cultures of Giving: Energizing and Expanding Philanthropy by and for Communities of Colors,” a report by W.K. Kellogg Foundation not only do Black people have a long history of giving, but African-Americans give a larger share of their income to charities than any other group.

This often-ignored, informal charity is one of the reasons why the Mays Family Institute on Diverse Philanthropy at Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy is so important. The Mays Family Institute on Diverse Philanthropy not only teaches people from underrepresented populations on how to embark on philanthropic careers, but also sheds light on all the ways philanthropy happens in the Black community.

The Mays Family Institute on Diverse Philanthropy is encouraging people to not just think about diverse philanthropy this month but to think about it all year around by having a speaker series. 

“The speaker series will bring a broader and deeper understanding of diverse philanthropy and celebrate philanthropy in the community,” Amir Pasic, Eugene R. Tempel Dean of the school of philanthropy, said. 


Contact staff writer Mariah Lee at 313-762-7853. Follow her on Twitter @ mariahlee1994.


Upcoming Mays Family Institute speakers

Oct. 4 — Dr. Helene Gayle, president and CEO, Chicago Community Trust.

Oct. 30 — Mr. Jim Moore, president and CEO, university of Illinois Foundation.

Nov. 6 — In collaboration with Lake Institute on Faith & Giving Distinguished Visitors Program: 

Dr. Brad Braxton, director of the Center for the Study of African-American Religious and supervisory curator of Religion, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture  

Rev. Starsky Wilson, president and CEO, Deaconess Foundation 

Ms. Aimee Laramore, owner and lead consultant, Aliyd Image Solutions and philanthropic strategist for African American Preaching and Sacred Rhetoric Ph.D. Program, Christian Theological Seminary 

Spring 2019 – Ms. Susan Taylor Batten, president, and CEO, Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE)

More information and details about the time and location of each event will be released at a later date. All events are open to the public. 

Dr. Jackie Copeland Carson

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