by Katasha Butler
steering committee member of African American Legacy Fund of Indianapolis
I have very clear memories of sitting between my mother and grandmother at church on Sundays and my grandmother handing me a dollar to drop in the collection plate when it was time for the offering. Even as small children, we knew it was our duty to proffer our small token to help the church, to help those who were less fortunate because God had been good to us; this was the start of my relationship with philanthropic giving.
As I grew older, my giving and giving back continued—this central tenet of growing up Black: never forget where you came from and always reach back. The Black church has always been at the core of this giving strategy. It was others who reached back that allowed two churches to give me textbook money when I was studying at Spelman. Another church helped me with rent when I was in pharmacy school. My tithes and offerings, to this day, have helped many other Black children who’ve walked that same path behind me.
It is a known fact that Black households lag sufficiently behind whites in terms of wealth, with the typical Black household holding only six percent of the wealth of the typical white household. But Black households donate at a higher level (percentage of wealth) than all racial groups. How can this be? I’ll tell you how: research shows that the foundation behind Black philanthropy is masses of people coming together to give what they can. This has often been the basis of social change as well—committing to support causes that specifically affect us.
But Black households donate at a higher level than all racial groups.
As a grown adult, I personally made the effort to be more targeted in my giving. I actually have a giving plan that helps me prioritize the causes that I want to support and can support. It also helps me redirect asks when I’ve given my designated amount for the year. I do realize this may not be common for the African American community, but perhaps it should be. This is part of the legacy that we are trying to build by starting the African American Legacy Fund. How can we collectively leverage our resources for the causes that we care about? How can we do that in a way that is most impactful and can foster social change? How do we get our children and grandchildren to start thinking about planned philanthropy at an early age? Most of us all start out as budding philanthropists through our churches, social organizations and alma maters (especially HBCUs), but what about issues that are directly affecting the community where we work and live?
This is why I was thrilled to be asked to help launch this fund that will have a lasting impact on Indy for generations to come. It is past time for us to work collectively and leverage our own resources instead of always waiting to be on the receiving end of others generous support. In this way, we can uplift and move the social, mental and economic state of African Americans in Indianapolis forward. I believe the idea of the fund has definitely taken root and the reception and excitement about the fund has been nothing short of amazing. The steering committee members have worked very hard to ensure the sustainability of the fund. There is a message behind everything that we’ve rolled out, down to the colors of our branding, the logo that we chose and even the tagline: “Your Fund, Your Legacy.”
We can do it this and it’s happening right now!
The African American Legacy Fund is an endowed donor-advised fund of The Indianapolis Foundation, an affiliate of Central Indiana Community Foundation. This permanent fund is a philanthropic vehicle that allows any donor to make a charitable contribution, receive a tax benefit and engage with other donors. The fund will make charitable distributions to help address socioeconomic disparities experienced by African Americans in Indianapolis. This is a fund for us, by us. The time is now.
If you have any other questions about the fund or other opportunities, drop me a line at AALFIndy2019@gmail.com.
And don’t forget to give your dollar to your daughter, niece or granddaughter in church so she can start her path as a lifelong philanthropist.