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Reflections from Black Philanthropy Month: The Importance of Time, Talent, Treasure and Testimony

In honor of Black Philanthropy Month, Central Carolina Community Foundation shared stories of Black philanthropic impact on the Midlands. Throughout the month of August, Foundation staff members interviewed Black philanthropists and Black-led and Black-benefiting nonprofits to share their philanthropic stories with community members and analyze the Pillars of Philanthropy: Time, Talent, Treasure and Testimony during the Black Philanthropy Moment Facebook Live series.

Reflecting on the impact of last month, we share a few important concepts that we learned through our #BPM2021 interviews. The first two interviews were conversations with four of the Community Foundation’s African American Philanthropy Committee members, including Felicia Rhue Howard (Chair), Jackie Griffin, David Pendergrass and Ashley Thomas. In addition to their service on the AAPC, Jackie, David and Ashley were also representing the nonprofits they serve: COLA Gives, Freethinkers Radio and The Hive Community Circle, respectively. In the first interview, Felicia Howard and Jackie Griffin shared why treasure is important to uplift Black-led-and-benefiting nonprofits. Felicia reminded us that “it’s hard to sustain an impact without treasure” and that treasure often shows where one’s priorities lie. Through our second #BPM2021 interview, David Pendergrass and Ashley Thomas discussed the different forms of talent and how one’s talent can be used to serve others in the community. Talent is crucial in philanthropy as it “centers authenticity which allows people to bring their full and true self to help others,” David said. As the founder and leading producer of Freethinkers Radio, David shared about utilizing his talent of production to disseminate information and connect community members with employment and educational opportunities. Ashley shared with us the power of advocacy and empathy as examples of key talents that drive philanthropy forward.

We continued to learn about the Pillars of Philanthropy, and specifically the value of time, through the conversation with Brianne Jenkins of Feeding Finlay and Elána Frazier of Columbia Urban League. “Time is nonrefundable. The investment of time is crucial to the impact and movement you are trying to create,” said Elána. It was emphasized that a person’s dollars are not unique but their time and how they choose to dedicate their time is unique. Lastly, we concluded our #BPM2021 series with a panel of prominent Black philanthropists from the Midlands. Sherrie Belton, Lynn Hutto and Zakiya Mickle joined a few of the Foundation’s staff members to discuss the history of Black philanthropy and the importance of testimony. This conversation challenged our community to begin celebrating and highlighting Black philanthropy’s impact.  The conversation dove deeper as the Black philanthropists shared their own personal testimonies and how those experiences molded what philanthropy means to them. Throughout the conversation, the group pondered these questions:

  1. How can we invest in our community’s assets rather than focus on the deficits?
  2. How do we share resources that we have in a way that is sustainable for both donors and nonprofits?

These questions show the importance of why we must continue to uphold the value of philanthropy and serving others within our communities.  This conversation was a perfect way to wrap up our #BPM2021 interview series as it left us with an affirmation that philanthropy can be understood in a multitude of ways, but nonetheless, we all can give in meaningful ways to support our whole community. These conversations served as a stepping stone for the community to better understand what philanthropy was, what it is currently, and what it can be – and that is the beauty of this work.