African American Communities

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

Art Fest, Bee Cave, Texas | iPhone photo by Carolyn

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

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.”


“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. (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 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.”

Here is a link to a TEDx Charlotte talk you might enjoy from 2013, “Personal Identity & Finding Philanthropy.”

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

  • Check out the resources of the Black Philanthropy Network.
  • Rick Cohen wrote for NPQ, “What Black Philanthropy Month Might Mean to Nonprofits and Racial Justice” (August 5, 2013).
  • You might enjoy the website, Black Celebrity Giving. “The mission of the Black Celebrity Giving is to disseminate timely and useful information on a myriad of causes, to provide charitable support to organizations through seed funding grants and charity spotlights.”
  • Danielle Pointdujour for Travel+Leisure, “Meet Karen Arrington, the Philanthropist Leading Black Women on Empowerment Trips Around the World” (August 16, 2020).
  • Maryann Reed has written for Forbes, “This Little Known Fact About Black Giving Might Be Surprising” (October 30, 2019).
  • Vanessa Small wrote for The Washington Post, “African American Millennials Seek to Define ‘Young, Black Philanthropy'” (February 24, 2013). “’We need to make sure that we’re not just talking the talk, but walking the walk,’ said Johnson Cooper, 29. ‘We may not have a lot of money to give, but we need to make sure we give.’”
  • Anise D. Wiley-Little wrote an insightful book, Profitable Diversity. From PR Web“Profitable Diversity: How Economic Inclusion Can Lead to Success proves that corporate diversity is not only ethical, but a smart business move. Diversity is race and gender, but it is also so much more than that—and should be approached not as simply a quota to be filled, but as a way to maximize success. Profitable Diversity, an easy-read guide for chief diversity officers, practitioners, and business leaders, will change the way the corporate world approaches diversity.”
  • Ange-Marie Hancock wrote for the Stanford Innovation Review, “Giving Black” (December 18, 2012). “Philanthropy is a term that alienates many African Americans who, although financially able and willing to give, consider philanthropy something that only the very wealthy can do. Others have perceived African Americans primarily as recipients of white philanthropic dollars. I knew that perception was terribly outdated, and I suspected that other common perceptions were also inaccurate, but where was the data?”
  • Pew Internet Research Project released, “African Americans and Technology Use” (January 6, 2014). “Overall, 73% of African American internet users—and 96% of those ages 18-29—use a social networking site of some kind. African Americans have exhibited relatively high levels of Twitter use since we began tracking the service as a stand-alone platform.”
  • Tyrone Freeman, Stasia Washington and Michael Voss share their thoughts in a podcast hosted by SSIR: Stanford Social Innovation Review, “African American Philanthropy: A Culture of Generosity” (August 12, 2020).
  • In Central Texas, you might like to connect with The New Philanthropists.

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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