Opinion Features

Changing the face of philanthropy

Written by Lisa Montgomery

So often the word alone, “philanthropy” evokes a perception of someone or a group of individuals that don’t look like me or mirror the communities they service. In actuality, Black Americans are immensely effective and generous philanthropists however, when discussing “philanthropy” our voices and images are often not included.

  • In 2020, The Washington Post reported that nearly two-thirds of Black households donate to community-based organizations and causes, to the tune of $11 billion each year, according to a joint 2012 study from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. Black households on average give away 25 percent more of their income per year than Whites.

The Village Giving Circle is redefining what the face” of philanthropy looks like. Philanthropy in the Black community isn’t new.  Black women have been giving in our community since the beginning of time. Perhaps that giving wasn’t always monetarily, but nonetheless it was giving what you had to make someone else’s life was better.  That is what we do as Black women and so we want to honor this tradition of giving, continue it, and expand it. 

August is Black Philanthropy Month, and while we are focused on giving year-round, we want to pause to highlight the generosity of Black women. The age old saying, “there’s strength in numbers” holds true for many things philanthropy included. Collective giving is synergistic, strategic, and active — and we admire our giving circle members’ compassion and commitment to our causes that matter to our community and our desire to redefine the face of philanthropy in Texas and around the nation.

There are many elements that are a part of building healthy communities. Some of those are affordable housing, comprehensive healthcare and quality education and our work in supporting in these areas speaks volumes.

In just 5 short years, The Village Giving Circle has reached $1MM in total giving.  We don’t host any major fundraisers, we simply share the need in our community and the women of The Village give in support of those organizations who are in the trenches with some of the challenges facing our communities—doing the work to uplift the most vulnerable among us.  We are continuing to redefine the power of Black women and the power of collective giving.

Since 2017, the number of Black non-profits seeking grant dollars from The Village has more than tripled.  Unlike other grant programs, which generally demand the completion of an application of at least 20 pages, the Village Giving Circle’s application is only four pages.

A lot of larger non-profit operations have grant writers on staff.  They have fully functioning development teams— so these organizations have the resources and the know-how to go after grant dollars. Many of the Black-run non-profits may only have a staff of one or two people. So, even to complete a grant application is a stretch for them. We want to level the playing field for some of the smaller, less well known non-profits. One of the other differences that we see is our non-profits are in the trenches with some of the challenges that face our community.”

With each new year, tradition asks us not just to look ahead but to also look back at the progress we’ve made, the habits we’ve developed and the goals we hope to build on. For us, that means the passion that helps us elevate and tell the story about the collective giving power of philanthropic Black women.

Collectively, we are fierce — an unyielding force that celebrates the lives and livelihoods of our people and the communities they look to serve.

Black philanthropy undeniably matters — to our grantees, to our supporters, to our people and in our communities.  I feel incredibly honored to be doing this work and most importantly, to be doing it alongside my sisters and women that I respect and who are as passionate as I am about our elevating our community.  We were made for this moment!

About the author

Lisa Montgomery