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Learning Together: Black, Indigenous and People of Color Fundraising Professionals Find Solidarity in BIPOC Book Club

In January, the Community Foundation partnered with the Association of Fundraising Professionals to host a book club for Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) executive directors, development staff and board members. Each of the participants has a unique role, fundraising for nonprofits that reside in the Foundation’s 11-county service area.

“The BIPOC Book Club was an incredible experience that provided fundraisers of color with an opportunity to learn more about the work within our wheelhouse,” said Heather Singleton, principal consultant of Strategic Public Relations Consulting, who facilitated the book club’s discussions. “Even greater, we were given a chance to view this work in concert with our own lived experiences. It felt great to feel seen and supported within a safe space, and I’m grateful that CCCF and AFP made this possible.”

Reading and discussing No More Duct Tape Fundraising: The Nonprofit Leader’s Guide to Becoming an Inspirational Fundraiser by Rachel Ramjattan, the thirteen participants dived deep into discussions with one another and the author herself during weekly virtual meetings. Each week, the discussion was centered around an assigned chapter and its conjunction with lived experiences as BIPOC fundraisers. The book club also provided an opportunity for members to strengthen and expand their professional connections with other nonprofit professionals.

“I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to engage and grow with other BIPOC leaders by way of literature, vulnerability and a safe space to just be,” said Kendra Mallet-Brunson, Executive Director of the LRADAC Foundation. “This experience surpasses any other book club I’ve been a part of, and honestly, any networking experience I have shared with like-minded professionals.”

The BIPOC Book Club taught participants fundraising best practices and skills that will help them best equip their staff, board, and volunteers in supporting the fundraising goals of their organizations. By the end of the month, participants had completed discussions on weekly topics, such as experiencing fundraising, authenticity in action and investing in stakeholders.

“Heather did an amazing job facilitating the group, guiding the conversation, and listening emphatically to our stories and contributions to the fundraising field,” Kendra Mallet-Brunson said. “Every week, I eagerly anticipated our meeting, as this level of engagement and exclusivity is often not afforded to professionals that look like myself. My only hope is that this is just the first of many series for many other BIPOC individuals.”

During the weekly discussions, participants focused on expanding the traditional way of fundraising planning by applying lived experiences from personal journeys as BIPOC fundraisers. Members reflected on how traditional fundraising methods have evolved and now require authentic relationships and intentional understanding to be effective.

“It gave a space to meet and freely discuss with other men and women of color in the same profession,” said Adena Rice, Community Engagement Associate for United Way of the Midlands. “It allowed me to feel like I wasn’t the only one and encouraged confidence in my future experiences. I also got to learn from the knowledge that was in this book as well as the knowledge from my peers. I couldn’t say enough good things about this book club.”

The Community Foundation was proud to host such an important forum for the BIPOC members in our community. We look forward to continuing to host conversations and professional development opportunities for BIPOC nonprofit professionals in the future. To stay up to date with the Foundation’s future initiatives, visit our www.yourfoundation.org and subscribe to our newsletter at the bottom of the home page.