Removing Barriers

Give Black Richmond offers a database supporting community organizations that may lack philanthropic funding.

Enjoli Moon, founder and creative director of Richmond’s Afrikana Film Festival, had an ah-ha moment when she realized that it had never participated in Giving Tuesday. Created in 2012 as a global generosity movement, Giving Tuesday occurs the Tuesday after Thanksgiving when people are encouraged to donate to nonprofits that matter to them.

Since Afrikana had yet to participate in Giving Tuesday, Moon began thinking about holding her own.

“I thought about how many Black-founded organizations I know personally that don’t participate in Giving Tuesday either and was reminded of the many conversations I’ve had with organizational leaders about the struggle we all seem to share regarding funding and access,” she explains. “Even those of us who are fairly well-known and supported in the city still aren’t raising enough money to be truly sustainable.”

With that in mind, she decided to expand beyond Afrikana playing host to its own Giving Tuesday to find a way to spotlight all local Black organizations. Give Black Richmond is a database designed to make finding and supporting Black community organizations in the Richmond area easier. The goal is to remove the barriers that exist between Black-owned and Black-led community organizations and the people who want to support them.

Inspired by all those conversations with Black-led groups, Moon enlisted Nigel Richardson as her administrator to help execute the idea. “This project would have been a much heavier lift if not for him, our graphic designer Meredith Carrington and Andre Johnson, who assisted with the website,” she says.

The need for a service such as Give Black Richmond is well documented. There are multiple studies documenting the tremendous gap in philanthropic and institutional fundraising between Black- and white-owned and run organizations, with smaller Black organizations frequently facing hurdles gaining access to donor circles.

“We hope that Give Black Richmond is recognized as a resource that can help those looking to give with those who need to receive,” Moon says. “We think this is especially important now on the heels of 2020, a year that, between the pandemics of racism and COVID-19, offered a glimpse into the dichotomy of the lived experience for Black people in this country.”

Becoming part of the database is as easy as submitting an application on the website, One of the things that makes the website a little different from some others is that having a 501(c) designation is not required to be included.

Moon says that’s because the cost associated with applying for and maintaining nonprofit status can be a barrier for smaller organizations that are committed to community and doing good work. “As long as you’re registered with [Virginia’s State Corporation Commission], have an EIN, are Black-owned or Black-founded and do community-focused work in the Richmond metro area, you qualify.”

To continue enlarging the database, the Give Black Richmond team also looks to see who’s out in the community doing the work and then reaches out to invite them to join. Moon hopes that people will spread the word and encourage those that fit the bill to sign up.

Fatima M. Smith is the founder of Collective 365, a grant-making and capacity-building organization that focuses on celebrating and investing in Black and brown communities in Washington, Maryland and Virginia.

“We know that Black and brown people meet the needs of their communities and often exceed them with little to no access to funding and other resources, but they’re the recipient of only 2% of traditional foundation giving,” Smith explains, adding that Give Black Richmond provides an opportunity to elevate organizations committed to the advancement and sustainability of Black communities in Richmond. “While the organizations listed on the database have a focus on the Black community, it’s imperative to understand that whenever Black communities thrive, other communities thrive.”

Amiri and Cindy Richardson-Keys are co-owners of the Arts Community Center in Chesterfield County. “Give Black Richmond allows dollars to be directly sown to organizations’ needs,” Amiri says. “The database is an essential tool for Black-owned organizations to have access to a network of gifters and investors who’ll support and undergird our businesses.”

The first round of Giving Tuesdays began in February spotlighting a different group of organizations each week. The hope is that people will find organizations that connect with things that are important to them and choose to donate.

Moon acknowledges that it’s a process. “It seems as though we’ve begun to peel back layers that have allowed some to turn a blind eye to the realities of police brutality, housing disparities, income inequality and systemic racism,” she says. “My hope is that as a part of this learning, we begin to dismantle systems that no longer serve us and create new ones. I’m hoping Give Black Richmond can a part of that rebuilding.”


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