Giving circles are primed to radically shift the paradigm when it comes to how we collectively share our resources for the common good. Join us in lifting up and celebrating Black-led giving circles that are redefining what philanthropy looks like in 2021.
Black women have always played a pivotal role in advancing social change—from Harriet Tubman and Ida B. Wells to Rosa Parks and Michelle Obama. Today, we have a collective obligation to invest in Black women, femmes, and girls by providing access to resources and opportunities that help them live up to their full potential.
A giving circle for Black women, femmes, and girls in Omaha, Nebraska, I Be Black Girl Gives (IBBGives) serves a population that is often overlooked by mainstream systems and institutions. “[IBBGives] creates a space that allows Black women to see themselves as philanthropists,” says Co-founder and Director Ashlei Spivey. “We do what we need to do without barriers.”
Acknowledging that larger nonprofits are already highly resourced, IBBGives — an initiative of I Be Black Girl — prioritizes funding smaller grassroots programs and projects. IBBGives aims to fund organizations that have a budget of $500,000 or less, serves at least 75 percent Black women, femmes, and girls, provides IBBGives members with the opportunity to volunteer, and are values aligned. With 65 members each making an annual donation of $150 or more, IBBGives collectively decides where to provide grants — and they aren’t limited to just 501(c)3 organizations. Past grantee partners have included community and neighborhood projects, as well as individuals with a project idea.
IBBGives has distributed approximately $150,000 in grants to support Black women, femmes, and girls in Omaha over the last three years. As IBBGives’ membership and network of grantee partners grows, the collective has remained responsive and committed to going beyond the dollar.
For example, in 2021, IBBGives supported the Omaha Black Doula Association, a nonprofit dedicated to providing prenatal and maternal healthcare services for Black women. Aware of the high maternal mortality rates for Black women, I Be Black Girl (IBBG) as a collective wanted to go beyond the dollar. IBBG added a priority around the provision of maternal healthcare services to its policy platform and regularly engages in statewide advocacy to ensure that women across Nebraska have access to culturally competent maternal healthcare resources.
Adopting advocacy as their newest focus area, IBBG also played an integral role in the passage of a bill, LB451, which bans employment discrimination against people who wear their hair naturally. “We know that for Black women, Black folks, women of color, our hair is a part of how we express ourselves, how we show up,” says co-founder Jay Warren-Teamer. “LB451 was truly a victory. There were so many partners who helped us get it over the finish line.”
Looking ahead to the future, IBBG is engaging and mentoring the next generation of philanthropists. Black Girls Lead is a project specifically for young people, ages 14 to 19, to receive leadership training and mentorship opportunities, participate in their own respective giving circle, and serve as an advisory group to impact decision-making within the larger I Be Black Girl collective.
Three years into its founding, IBBG is firing on all proverbial cylinders with robust charitable giving and advocacy programs and a reliable space for Black women, femmes, and girls to build community. Members of IBBG bring lived experiences as Black women and knowledge of the most pressing issues of the community to ensure their giving circle is making the most impact.
“Black women are the vanguard when it comes to leveraging charitable giving as a resource for change,” says Warren-Teamer.
“[Being part of a giving circle], you have to find what works for you,” Spivey adds. “That’s what we saw in [our] community, that’s what we heard in [our] community. Being unapologetic, being intentional, being clear…this kind of work in [our] community has to be present.”
Philanthropy Together aims to strengthen and scale the giving circle movement by working with giving circles like I Be Black Girl Gives, a member of the Community Investment Network.
Ilyasah N Shabazz
For more than a decade, Ilyasah has worked with nonprofits to help them grow their audience by telling impactful stories, implementing strategic plans, and streamlining digital communications. A proud New Yorker, Ilyasah now lives in Greensboro, NC.