Valaida Fullwood knows a thing or two about giving. In fact, she wrote a book about it. In 2011, she published “Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African-American Philanthropists.” The following year it won the Terry McAdam Book Award, and in 2015 it was transformed into a touring multimedia museum exhibit called The Soul of Philanthropy.
But getting to this point was more than a decade in the making. In 2005, while serving as a board member of the African-American Community Foundation (AACF) in Charlotte, she started hearing about Black giving circles that were forming across the South.
“I was intrigued by how they were engaging Black donors,” says Fullwood, a native of Morganton, North Carolina, 75 miles northwest of Charlotte. “People were putting their own money – and their own skin in the game – and leading grantmaking.”
So over the course of the following 18 months, Fullwood, working with some of her fellow AACF board members, pulled together a group of people to talk about their philanthropy, and what they would like to see done differently in Charlotte. From that meeting, what would soon become known as the New Generation of African-American Philanthropists (NGAAP) was unofficially founded. It took another year and a half for them to formulate their name, mission and contribution guidelines, but in November 2007 they officially launched with their founding 17 members.
Each member of the group, now 35 members strong, pledges to give a minimum of $1 per day, or essentially $365 per year. The money is then pooled together and used to effect change in the Charlotte region through causes that are agreed upon by a group consensus.
“If we can give more as individuals, then we give more,” says Fullwood. “Our saying is ‘different amounts, but equal sacrifice.’”
One of the group’s many milestones was a $10,000 grant made to Jacob’s Ladder Job Center – their largest single donation to date. But to Fullwood, NGAAP’s greatest asset is its members – their shared values, cultural history and commitment to have an impact on their community. Says Fullwood:
“Well before there was a Ford Foundation, a Rockefeller Foundation or a Carnegie Foundation, we had each other. We had our beliefs and our relationships through our African roots that show up in how we give now. We have those traditions to build and rely on and also access new philanthropic tools and strategies. When we come together and apply the best of what we know and have access to, I think we’re a powerful force that can help close gaps and minimize disparities.”