The Resurgence of African American Male Philanthropists: Reggie Gordon at TEDxRVA

“When we present a check to an agency that is serving young Black boys, we want them to see us and we want them to feel when I grow up I want to be a philanthropist too”

- Reggie Gordon, The Ujima Legacy Fund

The Value of Giving Circles in the Evolution of Community Philanthropy (Full Text)


The Value of Giving Circles in the Evolution of Community Philanthropy: How community-based philanthropy can be strengthened by forging a bond between community foundations and Black giving circles in the United States is being featured in the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society’s spotlight on community foundations.

Visit the website for the full text and other research by Center Fellows on community foundations (and community philanthropy) around the globe.

The Value of Giving Circles in the Evolution of Community Philanthropy

CPCS Philanthropy

The Value of Giving Circles in the Evolution of Community Philanthropy, the final research paper from my time in the 2012 Emerging Leaders International Fellows Program is now available from the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society. I regard my time as a Fellow as one of the richest learning experiences of my life and one that has truly helped shape my career.

Applications for the 2014 Emerging Leaders International Fellows Program and U.S. Diversity Fellowship are being accepted until June 13, 2014.

African American men uniting to support community nonprofit organizations


Sharing the good news about a successful giving circle in Richmond, VA – The Ujima Legacy Fund!

Originally posted on FUNdraising Good Times:

Part two of a two part series. Read part one here

African American philanthropyAfrican American men are pooling their money to create positive community change. The Ujima Legacy Fund brings together men who invest $1,100 and collectively increase their impact. Founder Reginald Gordon shares a few details so you can create a fund in your community. We pick up our interview with Gordon with a discussion about grantmaking.

“Once we have reviewed all of the applications, a representative group of Ujima men go visit the site of the most compelling applicants,” Gordon shared. “The next step is for those applicants to make a presentation to the entire membership. After the membership has heard from each of the top applicants, then the members vote. The agency with the most votes is awarded the grant. Last year, we gave $20,000 to Partnership for the Future ( This year Ujima received proposals for…

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Community Philanthropy is Thriving in Brooklyn


I have been closely following news coming out of The Brooklyn Community Foundation (BCF) as they go through the process of rebuilding under the leadership of a new President. In the centennial year of community foundations, their process is also attracting a fair amount of media attention.  A Wall Street Journal article put the foundation’s efforts on a national platform and unsurprisingly focused on the foundation’s aim to significantly grow its assets.

However, it was two articles in the March 24, 2014 issue of Chronicle of Philanthropy that prompted BCF to respond.  In a letter to the editors, Alan Fishman, Chairman of BCF’s Board of Trustees lamented that the Chronicle of Philanthropy “fell short” of presenting the fullness of the role that community foundations play in locally-based philanthropy and what BCF is aspiring to do in Brooklyn. Specifically, the foundation took issue with claims that they were “sitting on $60-million in assets” when in fact $60 million is a figure that represents the current size of their institutional endowment. The article does not explain for readers that endowment funds are not always available for an institution to spend.  Fishman’s other point was to clarify that BCF does not necessarily believe that “grants for oper­ating expenses … might be put to better use elsewhere”, thus the title of the letter “Community Fund Plans to Keep Providing Operating Support”.

What stood out most to me in the letter was BCF’s explicit mention of embracing giving circles and donor advised funds in addition to other vehicles they feel will be of value to Brooklyn donors.  Fishman wrote, “…In fact, we hope to be driving far greater support to Brooklyn nonprofits by growing our donor services through personal funds, giving circles, and other channels we feel will be of particular value to donors here.”

The acknowledgement of the value of giving circles by a community foundation is music to my ears. I have written about the potential benefits of forging relationships with giving circles (here and here) and I am currently working to put my research theories into practice.  This summer, I will be organizing donors for the launch of a new giving circle.  The Brooklyn Benefactors is a group of philanthropists focused on supporting vibrant life for all in the borough of Brooklyn, NY.  As we grow, I hope there will be opportunities for us to engage with the Brooklyn Community Foundation to realize the potential power of grassroots and institutional philanthropy working together for the good of our local communities.



Brooklyn Insights

Brooklyn Insights is a project by the Brooklyn Community Foundation to bring residents, advocates, entrepreneurs, and leaders together to discuss Brooklyn’s future: the pressing needs of our communities, opportunities for change, and strategies for collective action. These conversations are the groundwork for a new, innovative approach to supporting community-led solutions.

Global Fellowship

Originally posted on valaida:


Current members of the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society’s Emerging Leaders International Fellows Program

Feeling immense thanks to fellow BGB contributor Akira Barclay for this email message and photo, which made my day.

Hi Valaida!

I hope you are well. I just wanted to share how Giving Back is reaching an exciting audience and making an impact on how we learn and practice philanthropy.

As you may know, I completed the 2012 Emerging Leaders International Fellows Program last year where my research project “The Value of Giving Circles in the Evolution of Community Philanthropy” referenced Giving Back. During the presentation of my research, I showed my copy of Giving Back and my peer Fellows and the Program administrators were very impressed.

A few weeks ago, I was invited to speak with the new cohort of Fellows about collective giving and giving circles. I thought it was the perfect time…

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‘Of Dreams and Mountaintops’: Celebrating Black Philanthropy Month

bolder advocacy

  Visit the Bolder Advocacy blog to read my guest post for Black Philanthropy Month.  As we approach the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, we can honor the legacy of our great civil rights … Continue reading