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Giving Back: The Soul of Philanthropy

When I give, I give myself.— Walt Whitman

Four Traditions of Philanthropy

TRADITION IMPULSE PHILOSOPHY LIMITS
Four Traditions of Philanthropy
Philanthropy as
RELIEF
Address immediate need Love they neighbor Need is limitless
Philanthropy as
IMPROVEMENT
Maximize human potential Teach a man to fish What if the pond is empty and the rod is broken?
Philanthropy as
SOCIAL REFORM
Dismantle structures that perpetuate problems Change not charity Who decides what must be reformed?
Philanthropy as
CIVIC ENGAGEMENT
Build community Only connect Relationships may not lead to action

Adapted from “Four Traditions of Philanthropy” by Elizabeth Lynn and Susan Wisely

The Truth of the Matter

Too often, the field of philanthropy, media, and others frame African Americans only on the demand side of philanthropy—Consumers, not donors. The source of problems, not a resource for solutions. In need, not influential. Beneficiaries, not benefactors.

  • African Americans give 8.6 percent of their discretionary income to charity—more than any other racial group in America.
  • Further, African Americans donate 25 percent more of their discretionary income than do Americans of European descent.
  • Nearly two-thirds of African American households give to charity more formally, to the tune of $11 billion each year.
  • African immigrant giving overseas is estimated at $11 billion.
  • In 2015, the collective buying power of African Americans is estimated at $1.1 trillion.

Sources: US Diaspora Giving Project (2014), The Nielsen Company (2013), W.K. Kellogg Foundation (2012) and The Chronicle of Philanthropy (2003)

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