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Black Philanthropy Month: An Opportunity to Give More Than Money

August 22, 2016

We focus on the money too much.

At least, that's true when we're talking about philanthropy and what it means for us and for our communities. In examining the needs of African-American organizations and communities, however, we must dig deeper when defining both the resources needed and those we can offer. We agree that these communities need hard dollars to create true equity on a host of indicators. But they also need our time and our talent.

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August is Black Philanthropy Month, and we want to use the occasion to ask each of us to consider what we have to give. The leaders of Chicago African Americans in Philanthropy (CAAIP) are dedicated to spreading that message, not only among African Americans but among all those who understand that investing in our communities is critical to creating a vibrant region that works for all of us. Chicago isn't healthy unless all its children receive a high-quality education and are prepared to enter the workforce. It can't succeed unless every family has safe and affordable housing. And it cannot thrive with the levels of violence and incarceration that disproportionately affect African-American communities. We all bear the cost of the lost opportunities, and lost lives, that are the result of these inequitable conditions.

This is why CAAIP is dedicated to creating a culture of investment that supports the critical, innovative work aimed at transforming these communities. As part of that effort, CAAIP is partnering with Forefront, formerly known as the Donors Forum, to convene grantmakers and nonprofit leaders to participate in racial equity conversations, trainings, and to share resources for greater effectiveness.

CAAIP provides a forum for African Americans in philanthropy and nonprofits to strategize about ways we can work together more effectively. Our goal is to increase both the funds donated to organizations serving African-American communities as well as the number of African-American donors to those and other organizations. We envision a strong philanthropic community that works through initiatives such as the African American Legacy Fund to respond to the needs of African-American communities.

As we watch the social and political events in our city and state, many of us feel powerless or weary or discouraged by the depth of the challenges we face. We at CAAIP are here to challenge each of you to step up and step out.

This year, Black Philanthropy Month challenges us to "elevate a culture of giving" in each of our lives. Whether it is holding a house party for an organization doing critical work in your neighborhood, providing bail money for protesters, marching alongside organizers you respect, supporting a younger leader, or just adding your name to a list of supporters of critical legislation, we can all do something.

Headshot_Claudette_BakerYour time, talent, and treasure all make a difference when it comes to making change. There is no right or wrong way to do that, especially during Black Philanthropy Month.

What better time than now to try?

Claudette G. Baker is director of Chicago African Americans in Philanthropy.

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