African American Communities

Some of you have a specific interest in connecting with African American communities, and rightly so!

Shena Ashley and Joi James note in an article for Urban Institute, “Taking a look at the latest available data on wealth and charitable giving, it is clear that black families, though hindered by a history of structural barriers and practices that have blocked asset building and wealth creation, are choosing to prioritize philanthropy. Of all racial or ethnic groups in the dataset, black families have contributed the largest proportion of their wealth—which can include savings, used cars, land, and investment accounts—to charity since 2010” (February 28, 2018).

Black is the New Green
Click to reach the website and to purchase the book.

I began studying African American philanthropy a few years ago when living and working in San Antonio. I learned about a book by Leonard E. Burnett, Jr. and Andrea Hoffman, “Black is the New Green: Marketing to Affluent African Americans” (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, St. Martin’s Press LLC, 2010). This quote provides a telling perspective on what the authors are addressing.

“The total number of affluent ethnic households in the United States is now estimated at over 1.3 million, the buying power of affluent African Americans (referred to as AAAs in this book) is currently $87.3 billion. This massive buying power of African Americans is expected to reach more than $1.1 trillion by 2012—just three short years for a cumulative growth of 28.4 percent. It would be foolish in the extreme not to tap into this rich buying segment, yet that is exactly what the marketing arms of companies do all too frequently.”

Further,

“Sometimes this is because the executives in a particular marketing department are unaware of the potential that exists within this segment; sometimes it’s because they are baffled about how to reach out to this segment; and sometimes it’s because they think they lack the money or resources to make a credible effort at adding a whole new segment. While other times, unfortunately, it’s because they have reached out in the past but their efforts were unappealing to the AAA audience. Black is the New Green will show you how to attract this lucrative market and create brand loyalty and product bonding among affluent African Americans in an affordable and measurable way.”

Real-life examples of successful marketing campaigns are provided. I found the book to be enjoyable and eye opening!

african america

AfroDaddy reported back on May 9, 2012, “Too often black people are … mischaracterized as only the recipients of welfare and charity. Black Gives Back is one website that serves to shatter those myths. BlackGivesBack.com (BGB) is a website that highlights the enormous amount of giving and charity within the African American community and has quickly become the premier resource for keeping up to date on African American philanthropy, charitable giving, scholarships and fundraising events.” While the website is no longer active, I wanted to share this quote because it is an important an observation.

An article by Kunbi Tinuoye, “African-Americans Are More Charitable Than Other Races,” from The Grio (January 11, 2012), is inspiring as well. “Black people are far more inclined to give back to the community compared with their white counterparts, according to new research by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. The report … shows a growing trend for communities of color to give at increasing rates and levels.”

Valaida Fullwood has authored an inspiring book that includes exceptional photography by Charles W. Thomas, Jr., “Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists” (Winston-Salem, North Carolina: John F. Blair, Publisher, October, 2011). “Giving Back lifts up seldom-celebrated traditions of giving among Americans of African descent. Rarely acknowledged as philanthropy, these centuries-old cultural customs and beliefs nevertheless continue to have an impact on lives and communities. Images and narratives of more than 200 people commemorate the legacy of black philanthropists—from generous donors of wealth to ingenious givers carving a way out of no way.”

Valaida also wrote a thoughtful post on the Black Gives Back blog you might also enjoy, “Reclaiming the Root Meaning of Philanthropy” (November 15, 2012). “Let’s engage in the radical work of reclaiming the root meaning of philanthropy: love of humanity.” Sharing a link to a TEDx Charlotte talk you might enjoy from 2013, “Personal Identity & Finding Philanthropy.”

This article was one of the first I wrote on Carolyn’s Nonprofit Blog. I have updated it a few times since then (thank you for your patience). I was pleased to see a new series of discussions by Candid on YouTube, “In Her Shoes: Stories, Insights & Perspectives from Women of Color in Philanthropy” (September 4, 2020). The first talk is posted below. The dialogue continues!

The African American community is powerful, creative, committed and one that continues to have a deep and lasting impact on social good and philanthropy. We need to learn more about its work, engage in more dialogues, partner and move society forward, together.

Additional Resources

You might also enjoy:

“Connecting With Diverse Communities” (first in the series with an emphasis on Hispanic communities)

“Connecting – Asian American Communities”

“Connecting – Hispanic Communities”

For a few personal reflections on diversity see my post, “Giving Thanks for Diversity.”

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