Last month, Assemblywoman Annette Robinson reminded us of the crises being faced by such community landmark institutions as The Bed-Stuy Volunteer Ambulance Corps and the Stuyvesant Heights Senior Citizens Center. The organizations are in need of financial support, resources and services from the community and individuals.
Yet, if a recent study by the Chronicle of Philanthropy is accurate, those organizations will gain the support it needs and, as Assemblywoman Robinson points out, the real problem for these organizations is lack of publicity.
Last spring, a Chronicle study reporting on giving at all income levels found that black people give 25 percent more of their discretionary income to charity than do others. An average of $528 annually is given by black people who make between $30,000 and $50,000, compared with $462 donated by their “white counterparts” in the same income range. A lot of that giving is focused on education initiatives.
Two decades ago, Emmet D. Carson, who has written several books and articles on black philanthropy, conducted the first national study on charitable giving and volunteering in the black community. “It’s no longer an issue if African Americans give,” he said in an interview with the Memphis Commercial Appeal, May 2003. “They do and always have because they had to give because society was not geared to support the development of the African-American community.”
“So if you were locked out by government and the social sector of society, you had to build your own network. The African-American churches really were the first community foundations.”
Now entering its fourth year, Washington, D.C. -headquartered National Center for Black Philanthropy, Inc., was established to promote and strengthen African-American participation in all aspects of philanthropy, giving and volunteerism.
The Twenty-First Century Foundation, New York’s first endowed black foundation, has given nearly $3 million to more than 250 nonprofit programs since 1971.
Corporations have established foundations that fund and support African-American philanthropic efforts. Washington Mutual Bank’s Community and External Affairs division is building new business relationships with nonprofit organizations through their corporate giving and community development initiatives. The AT& T Foundation is approaching its 20th year of matching employees’ contributions to the educational and community organizations.
An important link between corporations and the black religious institutions that are so pivotal in community development and sustenance is The Faith Center for Community Development helmed by the Rev. Fred A. Lucas, the founding president and CEO. The Faith Center is a national, nonprofit organization that provides training, technical assistance and funding for church -based community development. Headquartered at 120 Wall Street in the heart of Manhattan’s financial district, the Faith Center also “assists financial institutions and socially-concerned investors in accessing business and investment opportunities in underserved neighborhoods through collaborations with community-focused religious institutions.”
Earlier this summer, at the invitation of Rev. David Cousins, pastor of Bridge Street Church, Rev. Dr. Fred Lucas, Cousins’ pastoral predecessor, returned to Bridge Street Church. He came with a “giving” message and a check for $25,000. In previous weeks, the Faith Center, through Lucas’ work securing funds from various institutions and corporations, donated $25,000 each to Emmanuel Baptist Church and other area religious institutions.