‘Giving Black’ study shines light on Black philanthropy in Richmond

Updated: Feb. 22, 2021 at 5:15 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The Giving Black: Greater Richmond Initiative is highlighting Black philanthropy and how donors contribute their time and money to causes close to them.

The initiative was originated by a partnership through the Community Foundation and their giving circles, Ujima Legacy Fund and SisterFund.

With help from researchers from New England Blacks in Philanthropy, a study started in 2019 to dive into Black philanthropy in Richmond and the history behind it.

L. Robert Bolling, a member of Ujima Legacy Fund, says the study is important to uncover the truth about how Black people give back to their neighbors.

“What many people previously thought is Black people don’t give or they only give in church,” Bolling said. “That’s not true. They give across the spectrum in the same way other population demographics give, and they want to have the same impact for the issues they’re passionate about.”

The study took more than two years to complete. The results were published in January.

“There were interviews conducted with focus groups,” Bolling said. “There were interviews conducted with individuals and there was a survey that reached about 600 individuals across the Black community.”

The study dives into the past to talk about the origins of how Black people give, dating back to the transatlantic Middle Passage, where slaves relied on West African practices of giving, caring and sharing to survive.

The responses from the survey showed Black philanthropists rank economic equity as a top social issue, while 25 percent of households gave more than $5,000 to causes close to them.

“Black people are not just a recipient of services. They’re the folks who help those services exist,” Bolling said.

Veronica Fleming, a member of SisterFund, says the study also uncovers the true narrative behind Black people giving back, which she remembers learning from a young age.

“I grew up understanding that to whom much is given, much is expected,” Fleming said. “You have resources. You have intelligence. You have connections that it is your obligation to reach back in any way you can.”

Bolling hopes this concept will continue to inspire future generations of Black donors.

“We have this opportunity now to direct the resources that come from our community to those issues that are critically impacting the Black community as a whole,” he said.

The data from this study will be used to build a more inclusive community for Black philanthropists.

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