Black people have always practiced solidarity as a verb in the face of systems that oppress us. Black self-love encourages us to center our humanity and promote racial, social, economic, gender, and environmental equity for all communities—despite the oppression we experience.
Black love is also the theme for Black Philanthropy Month, which falls annually in August. Founded by Dr. Jacqueline Bouvier Copeland—with support from Reunity (formerly the Pan-African Women’s Philanthropy Network)—this commemoration brings together funders, organizers, and supporters of African descent to celebrate the ways in which we give, receive, and serve in our communities. “Black Love in Action” reminds us to celebrate our solidarity as a verb that is grounded in action.
Propelling the Work via Black Love and Solidarity
Throughout the month, Black philanthropists are embracing their inherent generosity and work to build “a field that moves beyond the rhetoric of philanthropy as love for humanity to make it real in Black communities.” To that end, Black Philanthropy Month also reminds us that a world where philanthropy operates in love and support—and fully includes Black people—is one that benefits all of us. Love, as defined by bell hooks, is “a combination of care, commitment, knowledge, responsibility, respect, and trust.” Trusting Black-led solutions means including Black leaders at decision-making tables, and creating new tables when there isn’t space for them. And if there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s this: the ones closest to the problems are closest to the solutions.
Too often, philanthropy acts as gatekeepers barring Black leaders from funding and decision-making. According to the Stanford Social Innovation Review, the unrestricted net assets of Black-led organizations are 76% smaller than their white counterparts. This disparity means that Black-led organizations have a lesser chance of achieving sustainability and growth in the shifting mission-driven work landscape. But additional barriers can stymie Black-led organizations as they seek to scale their organizational work. Connecting with funders and forming relationship-based partnerships with them is also a struggle. Seeking funding can be an inside game, and trust is foundational to developing and sustaining relationships in philanthropy.
Consequently, if you don’t have a trusted relationship with the insiders, it can be more difficult to secure funding. But we must never forget that our love for ourselves—and each other— remains at the heart of philanthropy. It’s not just about money; it was actually created to rectify and heal the harms that have been inflicted on Black communities by unjust systems. So, Black philanthropy is alive and well, and Black solutions designed—for us and by us—are the ones that will ultimately fuel the growth of our communities.
Funding the Work via Black-led Fiscal Sponsorship
In the end, achieving equity in Black communities is about building, maintaining, and wielding power for social change. We need to move resources to Black-led organizations and the solutions they believe in. And Nafasi Fund is doing just that and more.
We are inspired by Black-led organizations and we know that they have long operated solely on the wisdom, strength, and tenacity of the community. More often than not, they see a need and fill it without financial support from outside sources. However, Nafasi Fund exists and provides the 501(c)(3) and audit-worthy infrastructure these organizations need to be eligible for funding that supports their transformative work.
As we celebrate “Black Love in Action” at the Nafasi Fund, we are even more resolute in our belief about where philanthropy starts for us. It starts with the $20 in a birthday card, the offer to buy groceries when budgets are tight, or the introduction to an influential business connection. There are so many ways that the Black community has worked to create opportunities, capacity, and space for its people. And Nafasi Fund proudly follows the lead of our ancestors by doing our part to bolster Black-led organizations. We know how a traditional fiscal sponsor supports social change, but we use a different model to position organizations for greater impact.
Follow us to learn how we connect with Black organizations seeking fiscal sponsorship, support their growth, encourage their healing—and above all—lead this work with love.