Outrageous Generosity Blog
Cheryl McCourtie

Celebrating African American Philanthropic Contributions

February 20th, 2014 by Cheryl McCourtie

I am still buoyed from today’s spirited conversation with Tracey Webb of the Black Benefactors giving circle and www.blackgivesback.com; Christina Lewis-Halpern of the Reginald F. Lewis Foundation and All Star Code; and Cheryl Pemberton-Graves, Bold Giver, founder of the Five Pearls Foundation.

Each woman brought a special perspective to giving; each deeply rooted in family traditions of giving and concern for humankind.  The overwhelming response to this webinar (we were completely subscribed with 100 attendees and a waiting list of more than 40), is clear evidence of a hunger for more conversations about African American giving.  As a Black woman who works in the philanthropic sector and is a donor, I feel that our past philanthropic contributions need to be lifted up, and further, we need to, as our guests said today, be more strategic—and public—about the full range of our giving as a community. 

As part of that strategy I encourage those of us in the foundation world to truly get to know one another and to leverage these relationships, as well as those with African American major donors, toward a collective good.  As I wrote to a colleague right after the conversation yesterday, marching in tandem toward a collective goal is not a problem for groups that advance the prison industrial complex.  They are organized, ready and waiting.  What about us?

Any thoughts on how to keep the conversation and the momentum from today going?



During Black and Bold:  Philanthropy in the African American Community 2/20/14

With Tracey Webb, Christina Lewis-Halpern and Cheryl Pemberton-Graves


·      The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration, First Vintage Books, NewYork, NY (2011).
·      Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun?: How Reginald Lewis Created a Billion-Dollar Business Empire, by Reginald F. Lewis and Blair S. Walker, John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY (1995).

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Patricia Eng

Philanthropic Star Trek: Next Generation(s) Roddenberry

January 16th, 2014 by Patricia Eng

If you live on the West Coast, you had to get up early to join Rod Roddenberry on our Bold Conversation today.  And it would have been a great wake up call.

Rod is the son of Gene Roddenberry who created Star Trek.  He openly admits that while growing up, he enjoyed Star Wars more than Star Trek (and I’ve heard that George Lucas credits Gene for sparking his own imagination)!  But the more he learned about his father posthumously, the more he became inspired by the legacy he inherited (his personal quest to seek a deeper connection with his father is chronicled in a documentary film Trek Nation). 

Although philanthropic giving wasn’t a common dinner conversation at the Roddenberry household, Rod found his way to philanthropy with the help of his wife Heidi and two family friends.  Together, they launched the Roddenberry Foundation in 2010, with four focus areas:  science & technology; environment; education; and humanitarianism.

In his humble and honest way, Rod spoke about the beauty of humanity and protecting the planet.  He talked about long-term commitments to solve problems rather than putting Band-Aids on them.  Being fairly new to philanthropy, he is always learning, and asking himself (and others) questions like “what does it mean to be groundbreaking” or “what is effective philanthropy?”  What Rod loves most is collaboration because you can achieve so much more when humanity works together for the greater good!

His own son, Zale, is only five months old, but already giving him “feedback” (aka huge smiles).  Rod hasn’t yet thought about including philanthropy as part of dinner conversations (Zale’s current vocabulary is limited), but a seed was planted in his head through a question that came up in our conversation.

Want to hear more?  Look for the audio recording in our Bold Conversation Archives page

Live long and prosper (to give generously throughout your life)!

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Jason Franklin

Invited to give big

December 17th, 2013 by Jason Franklin

What does it take to give big? What we’ve seen at Bolder Giving over the course of hundreds of donors’ stories is a mix of elements that combine to help people get ready to give big. Some of the factors that may contribute to your decision to give big: a life-changing experience that inspires a change in your giving; confidence that you have enough; a personal connection to a cause, community or identity; inspiring role models of other givers; ongoing support for your giving; and finally and critically – an invitation to give big.

I’ve recently been part of one amazing invitation to give big – Activism’s Future, a groundbreaking campaign from the North Star Fund in New York City that is the largest in their almost 40-year history. I must admit to my bias for the North Star Fund:  I have been a member of their board for the last 7 years, and consistently impressed by the funding they have provided to the most courageous community organizers in New York.  These organizers have won everything from a ban on women being shackled while giving birth in the criminal justice system, to the first Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in the country, to over $2 million in back wages for food workers in New York City.

As Hugh Hogan, North Star’s Executive Director says, “We are asking each individual who cares deeply about social justice in New York City to make an extraordinary gift for North Star Fund's Activism's Future Campaign. Donors to the campaign have given as much as 5 or 10 times their largest previous gift.” This has included bold givers like Abigail Disney and Elspeth Gilmore, who have been giving big to a range of issues and were inspired by Activism’s Future to step up their giving in support of community organizing in NYC.

As we enter into the holiday season and you begin thinking of your own year-end gifts, what might move you to give big? If you are looking for advice about year-end giving, watch the recording of our final Bold Conversation of the year with Bold Givers Tracy Gary and Kathy LeMay who offered a range of great suggestions and strategies to give boldly at year end from their experiences as donors and donor advisors. And if you’re thinking about giving big but wondering where to do it, keep an eye out for a campaign like Activism’s Future. If what you’re lacking is an invitation, then let me make one myself – won’t you consider stepping up and making a bigger gift to the cause or community you most care about?

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