Giving Compass' Take:

• In this interview with theGrio, Demetria Irwin offers insights into the giving trends in the Black community and how the word "philanthropy" alienates Black donors. 

• How can funders work to understand philanthropy in Black communities? 

• Learn about the intersection of philanthropy and Black business

theGrio: What are the benchmarks of success for ABFE?

Susan Taylor Batten: We have three high-level indicators for ABFE.  People look to us for the tools, information, and resources they need to the strongest advocates of the community they can possibly be. The second is, we see the sector better networked and better organized to leverage resources wherever possible. The third thing is we see more resources moving to responsive, effective philanthropy in Black communities. It’s not just about resources to Black-led organizations, but it’s resources to invest in specific strategies that are about building power in our community.

theGrio: Some people associate the word “philanthropy” with only the super rich. What have been the barriers you’ve faced with talking about philanthropy in the Black community? 

Susan Taylor Batten: One of the biggest barriers is the term “philanthropy.” African descendent people are the most philanthropic in the world and we have been practicing philanthropy in our own community in so many ways, we just don’t call it philanthropy. We call it tithing, we call it Harambee, we call it membership dues, and so on. There’s data that suggests that we give away more discretionary income than any other racial demographic in the country, but we also know this is a diaspora phenomenon.  We’ve just got to break down the stiff vocabulary that this sector sometimes uses.  I’m excited about the rapid growth of Black giving circles around the country. There’s a organization called the Community Investment Network, which is an ABFE partner. It’s an umbrella organization for giving circles across the nation. The barrier is the frame around the perception of words like philanthropy, but the true meaning of philanthropy is love of mankind. We’re reminding folks that this is about love and how to love each other.

theGrio: If ABFE’s stated mission of promoting effective and responsive philanthropy in Black communities fully realized, what does that world look like?

Susan Taylor Batten: We will see clearly elimination and reduction in some of the glaring racial disparities that we see on every indicator of well-being: education, health, wealth, etc. Disparities are signals and signs of racism and that something is wrong with society. We would see equity in those areas. Our communities would be thriving. I look at it as a reduction of what is burdening us, which is a direct result of anti-Black racism and capitalism. We’re healthy, we live longer, our kids and young people have reached their full potential and at the end of the day, the country is stronger.

Read the full article about philanthropy in Black communities by Demetria Irwin at theGrio.