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Quick, create a mental picture of a philanthropist. What do you see? An older white man?
That’s the picture that pops into most of our heads. And it’s not surprising — this is the dominant image of philanthropy in the United States. From Andrew Carnegie to Warren Buffett, these are the faces of philanthropy most familiar to us.
For some new images of philanthropists, take a look at a wonderful new video, “I Am a Philanthropist: Diverse Voices in Giving.” This video will help populate your mind with philanthropists, such as Shirley and Bernard Kinsey (pictured at right), an African American couple who have amassed a large collection of African American art and historical documents that they loan for exhibitions, or Susan Lowenberg and Joyce Newstat, who support the communities they identify with most closely – Jewish and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender).
“I Am a Philanthropist” premiered at an event last November presented by D5, a coalition of funders, joint affinity groups, the Council on Foundations and the Foundation Center to grow philanthropy’s diversity, equity and inclusion. More than 200 people gathered at the event in Los Angeles to shine a spotlight on the diverse face of philanthropy. As the board chair of the National Center for Family Philanthropy, one of the sponsors of the event, I was interested in learning more about diversity in family philanthropy. In my own 20-plus years of experience with my family’s philanthropy, I have seen how incorporating diverse perspectives into our grantmaking and practices has enriched our connection to the community. I have witnessed how fresh vision can open one’s eyes to different ways of seeing community needs. Sometimes it takes a newcomer to show what you haven’t seen, simply because you haven’t been looking for it. I wanted to see what more I could learn about philanthropy by looking at the growing diversity in the field. My curiosity was rewarded.