Black Philanthropy


Recent trends show that communities of color in the United States are engaged in charitable giving at increasing rates and levels. African-Americans, for example, give away 25 percent more of their income per year than whites. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s 2012 report “Cultures of Giving: Energizing and Expanding Philanthropy by and for Communities of Color” shows nearly two-thirds of African-American households donate, giving $11 billion each year.


A strong culture of philanthropy exists among wealthy Blacks in particular, identified by Northern Trust as those with household incomes of at least $250,000 or a minimum of $1 million in investable assets. According to Northern Trust’s 2010 Wealth in Black America study, not only are affluent Blacks more charitable, but they also feel greater responsibility to provide financial support to family than non-Blacks – 52 percent versus 36 percent, respectively.


“Year after year, the affluent Black community has been highly philanthropic, whether they give through their churches or universities, or through organizations in communities where they have built businesses, raised their families, or were otherwise engaged in creating their personal wealth,” says Marguerite Griffin, national director of philanthropic services at Northern Trust.


Young, wealthy Blacks appear to be just as philanthropic as their older counterparts. Indeed, millennials, individuals born between 1982 and early 2000s, are bent on “changing the face” of philanthropy. Millennial Ebonie Johnson Cooper, self-described freelance writer, philanthropist and thought leader on millennial social responsibility, hosted a networking and panel discussion event on the subject on Feb. 21 at the National Council of Negro Women headquarters in Washington, D.C. It was headlined “Defining Young Black Philanthropy.”


“When we think of philanthropy, we think of old, white and wealthy and none of us in here are that,” Johnson Cooper told the 100 or so African-American millennial professionals in attendance. In an April 26 post on her blog, “Friends of Ebonie: Changing the Face of Philanthropy,” she declared: “We don’t all give money, which is traditionally linked with being a philanthropist. Some of us give more time than money and others give equally. Either way, who’s really to say who we are based on the volume of giving we embark upon?”


Friends of Ebonie planned to hold a gathering on June 14 and 15 under the heading “Changing the Face of Philanthropy Summit: The African American Millennial Summit on Giving and Civic Leadership.” More information can be found at


Below are some of the active Black philanthropic organizations and initiatives.


Africa Grantmakers’ Affinity Group
An association of funders who share and learn from each other about the most effective ways to support development efforts in Africa.


The Black Benefactors
The organization encourages philanthropy and community service in the Black community and the business community in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.


Black Philanthropic Alliance
A network of professionals in philanthropy and nonprofits who identify, manage and influence investments and resources to strengthen and connect the Black community in the Washington, D.C., region.


The Association of Black Foundation Executives
A platform for Blacks in philanthropy across the country to share resources, connect, inform and engage around programming to shepherd ABFE’s mission to promote effective and responsive philanthropy in Black communities.”


New England Blacks in Philanthropy
Seeks to inform, reform and transform the practice of philanthropy, to shift from focusing on Black deficit to focusing on our potential and leverage by increasing the assets and power of Black philanthropy and communities.


New York Blacks in Philanthropy
Provides networking opportunities, facilitates professional and leadership development opportunities, and coordinates strategies for leveraging human and financial resources for Black communities.


Friends of Ebonie
A marketing communication agency with an edge in social responsibility for African-American millennials. Provides insight, programming, and resources for and about young Black professionals and giving.


The Winston-Salem Foundation/Black Philanthropy Initiative
Celebrates the traditions of sharing in the Black community, and expand the models of charitable giving through education and engagement.


The Rhode Island Foundation/Black Philanthropy Initiative
A permanent endowment devoted to advancing equity and social justice for Blacks in Rhode Island.