Every community has them. Every community has Black leaders and Black-led groups that are making an impact and filling critical gaps. But identifying those organizations (especially if you don’t live in the local community) to fund them is not always easy. One Baltimore-based organization, CLLCTIVLY, is making an easier connection between donors and Black-led groups advancing racial and social justice. And this Black Philanthropy Month, I have an opportunity to highlight them.
For CLLCTIVLY, Black Philanthropy Month is more than a platitude. It is an opportunity to inspire Black donors to continue giving and a chance to showcase the work of Black-led organizations and initiatives that are fueling change. And Black communities responded in kind.
CLLCTIVGIVE, an initiative of CLLCTIVLY, reportedly raised $1,125,707 in just 24 hours during its fifth annual day of giving.
“Our day of giving was a groundbreaking success that will enable us to fuel the mission and extraordinary work of Black-led organizations and initiatives,” said Jamye Wooten, founder and CEO of CLLCTIVLY. “This was not only a historic moment in Black philanthropy, but it also reinforced the organization’s commitment to fostering sustainable solutions for social progress. This momentous fundraising event will reverberate through Black-led communities for years to come.”
CLLCTIVLY held CLLCTIVGIVE on Aug. 4. It included a fundraising platform connecting donors and Black-led groups, a speaker series, an awards ceremony and the launch of the Solidarity Awards in conjunction with the Elbow Fund. Founded in 2019 by Jamye Wooten, CLLCTIVLY is a place-based entity that embraces an asset-based framework to focus on racial equity, narrative change, social connectedness and resource mobilization. Since its inception, the organization says it has invested over $2 million in no-strings-attached grants.
This is critical because grants with onerous reporting requirements or time-intensive narrative reports can be especially exhausting for small groups. Additionally, asking Black-led groups to reverse overnight, which many feel they are asked to do, the impacts of injustice on long-standing racial, social and climate issues can be frustrating. It is imperative that there are reasonable expectations for grants. When an organization such as CLLCTIVLY comes along and provides a realistic bar for accessing much-needed financial support, it enables Black-led groups to thrive. These groups face barriers associated with lower generational wealth, inaccessible funding and lack of support, and that’s why groups like CLLCTIVLY stand out.
James Wahls, an impact investor who founded and runs the REVOLVE Fund, shared in a Philanthropy News Digest article that “society places the burden of success on entrepreneurs of color while often ignoring the systems that continue to cause them to fail disproportionately.” Rather than extractive capital, which requires stiff repayment terms that can burden already-stretched budgets, CLLCTIVLY’s grants – as do REVOLVE Fund grants – offer compassionate capital where it’s needed most: with Black-led groups.
Since its inception, CLLCTIVGIVE has garnered steady support from individual donors, businesses, foundations and community partners. Additionally, the campaign has grown rapidly over the years, raising $5,000 in its first year to more than $1 million in its fifth year.
Through the CLLCTIVGIVE platform, donors were presented with a diverse array of Black-led organizations, each working tirelessly to address critical issues and effect lasting change in their respective communities. They then had an opportunity to not only donate but meet the leaders behind these campaigns.
“CLLCTIVGIVE eliminated the many hours of searching donors can spend when trying to determine where to invest their resources,” Wooten said. “Donors didn’t have to search far to find worthy causes to support; we brought them all together under one umbrella. Contributors were then encouraged to select initiatives aligned with their passions and interests.”
When reflecting on the significance of CLLCTIVGIVE, Wooten said that in addition to breaking fundraising records, the effort amplified the impact of Black-led groups, strengthened community bonds, showcased local leaders, and empowered Black-led groups and campaigns.
“As we venture into the realm of securing funds for Black-led social change organizations, I emphasize that this journey is rooted in partnership, not paternalism. Some potential partners/funders embrace this path with us, while others may not,” Wooten added.
Jennifer R. Farmer is the author of “First and Only: A Black Woman’s Guide to Thriving at Work and in Life,” and founder of Spotlight PR LLC.
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