August Newsletter | Power in Black Philantrhopy

Deaconess Community,

Since 2011, August has been recognized as Black Philanthropy Month (BPM). Established by Dr. Jackie Bouvier Copeland, this celebration aims to elevate Black giving and funding equity, which is rich with history and tradition. For too long, Black philanthropy has gone largely unnoticed and underappreciated in mainstream philanthropic spaces – but the tide is turning.

Philanthropy can be a weighted word often tied to traditional white-centered giving, exclusivity, and power, but we know that there’s much more to this story. Historically, Black Americans give 25% more of their income annually than white households. Black philanthropy is not new, and we must be intentional in uplifting and embracing the full community of donors.

Towika T. Smith, founder and executive director of SEM Link, perfectly articulated the importance of inclusive philanthropy in a recent article, stating, “When the philanthropic sector invites and includes Black voices in philanthropic decision-making process, it allows the sector to make impactful change because it is work for the community with solutions created by the community.” To achieve this, we must promote, support, trust, and be in fellowship with those who are doing the work. Community members and leaders know what work is overlooked and underfunded, and they are best equipped to make impactful investments.

In my interview with Inside Philanthropy, I recently discussed how funders play a key role in the efforts to “uproot and to reverse” old giving traditions. I shared that, “the undoing is really important so that we can truly meet the community where the healing and their medicine is taking us.” It is our role to make sure that they have the resources to do so.

The collaborative St. Louis Regional Racial Healing + Justice Fund applies this principle through its Community Governance Board, made up of community members which directs the Fund’s investments. The board members’ lived experience informs their grantmaking which is focused on healing community trauma and demolishing the conditions that reinforce systemic racism.

I invite you to consider how you, too, can be a part of the turning tide. What traditions does this new era challenge you to break from in order to create possibility like we’ve never seen before?

To the people global majority who have a history of continuing to give even during times when there are more needs than finances: We see you. We appreciate your sacrifice. It matters and, prayerfully, it’s worth the sacrifice for the just future we are building together.

In service to the mission,

Bethany Johnson-Javois
President & CEO
Deaconess Foundation

August 24, 2022

To read the rest of our August Newsletter, click here.