Editor’s Note: The following guest post is written by Dr. Froswa Booker-Drew, philanthropist and founding officer of the HERitage Giving Fund.
As a child, I saw my parents in Shreveport, Louisiana helping others. At the time, I didn’t realize that the trips to visit the sick, the donations to those in need or even delivering cooked meals, were part of philanthropy in my community. My involvement in service began as a teen volunteering and has not stopped. I have made a life of giving. I now call myself a philanthropist, something I would not have called myself years ago because I didn’t realize that, like my parents, I was a part of this work.
I discovered in my nonprofit career that so few foundations support organizations of color. Foundations also often focus on narratives of brokenness, instead of supporting organizations that are already community assets, but may not have everything on the checklist to get approved for funding.
I got more involved in African-American giving through the work of Tracey Webb, the founder of the now defunct blog, Blackgivesback.com. In this blog, Tracey offered a glimpse into everyday individuals who were making a difference through their giving. I had the pleasure of writing for the blog for a number of years, which strengthened my awareness of the impact of black philanthropy.
Working with Tracey introduced me to the idea of giving circles. Tracey started Black Benefactors, a giving circle based in Washington, DC, and was wildly successful at bringing a group of African American professionals together to donate not just money but time and talent to African American causes and leadership. This year, Black Benefactors made grants to The Black Swan Academy and Scholarchips, two important organizations working in the community to enhance youth opportunities, even for the most marginalized.
I got further inspired about black women’s philanthropy after learning about the African American Women’s Giving Circle in DC, and seeing the success they had in supporting causes for African American women and girls. Black Philanthropy Month (coming up in August!) was also something that inspired me to get more involved in the space of black giving.
Ultimately, a documentary called the The Contradictions of Fair Hope, which won for best long documentary at the Newark Black Film Festival’s Paul Robeson Awards, also reeled me in to the world of black giving. The film provides an example of African American giving by highlighting the Fair Hope Society in Alabama. Formed by freed slaves in 1888, the Fair Hope society helped those most in need: the sick, the hungry, and those who had lost a loved one and needed funds for burial. The society worked as a form of insurance, where members paid 10 cents a month to be entitled to the services, and leftover funds went toward a yearly celebration.
When Akilah Wallace, the founder of the HERitage Giving Circle approached me and Dr. Halima Leak Francis to be a part of creating the first African American Women’s Giving Circle in Texas, I was reminded of our legacy from the past, and wanted to be part of something even more powerful for the future. HERitage Giving Fund was founded August 2017, during Black History Month. The mission of the HERitage Giving Fund, a giving circle at Dallas Women’s Foundation, is to encourage philanthropy in the African-American/Black community, to contribute in a strategic and meaningful way, and to bring a new source of funding to nonprofit organizations serving African-American women and girls throughout North Texas.
HERitage is committed to engaging Black women of varying economic status and backgrounds, who have a heart for investing in organizations, often grassroots, and/or start ups. Often these organizations have limited access to funding sources to support basic operating needs (staff income, supplies, transportation, etc.), help to increase service capacity and reach, and sustain much-needed program services over time. This is why Heritage Giving Fund and other giving circles are so important.
The HERitage Giving Fund awards grants to organizations that are located in North Texas, led by African American women, using a gender lens to frame strategies, and have a sound mission and objectives for impact. HERitage Giving Fund also serves as a hub for social events and discussion on how to build empowerment through philanthropy.
I serve as a Founding Officer and Grants Committee Chair. To date, we have raised more than $20,000 (and are still collecting funds through the end of July). We will accept applications in August and announce those selected to receive funds from the members in the late October/November. We are successful because of our members’ commitment. It has been amazing to work with a group of women who are so committed in their local community. It is even more impressive that these community role models use their resources to continue this rich legacy of giving.
For more information on HERitage Giving Circle and ways that you can get involved, please email us at HeritageGivingFund@gmail.