Patricia Macdonald sat down with us to discuss Black Community Fund’s (BCF) work funded through the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Catalyzing Community Giving grant opportunity. The Black Community Fund (BCF), an affiliate of the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, has the mission is to improve quality of life and socio-economic aspects of the African-American community in Greater Kansas City. They accomplish this by increasing charitable giving, educating and connecting donors to community needs they care about, and providing leadership on critical community issues.
Q: What are your current efforts to catalyze community giving?
A: We focused our Catalyzing Community Giving grant work on the launch of a Kansas City-specific, crowd-funding platform for nonprofits called Daily Deeds. In addition to providing a way for individuals of every economic position to participate in improving conditions in Kansas City, it educates the user about critical community needs and which organizations are meeting those needs. The initial thrust has been focused on featuring organizations addressing early-childhood toxic stress caused by chronic and prolonged adverse childhood experiences (ACE’s). We want individuals to come to appreciate, that when organized and pooled, even a $3 contribution can impact systemic change and makes a difference. We sweetened the pot by providing a matching dollars incentive, provided by an external donor, with the hope that this will inspire people to jump in and participate.
Our soft launch in the summer of 2015 went to 200 people who helped us pilot the platform. We’re now working to get the community to own it. We worked with our Mayor to promote Daily Deeds during National Black Philanthropy Month. We are talking with parents to encourage philanthropy with their children and teens who, through Daily Deeds, can learn about community needs and decide how they want to allocate $1-$2 right through their phones. The word is out now, the Black Community Fund has launched this and PSA’s on Black radio, upcoming “how-to” videos with social media boosts will help to spread the word. It’s exciting.
Q: Do you think projects like yours are part of a larger movement to link community-based giving to critical issues in communities of color?
A: I certainly hope so! Black people give all the time, but this is helping us, to help our community, become more organized and deliberate about how we meet our community needs and goals. Being a part of this W. K. Kellogg cluster and cohort has propelled our philanthropic leadership to an entirely new dimension and I can say I do feel the steam building up.
Q: What would you say is your unique approach to philanthropy?
A: We’ve always had a message of participation. That has always been the Black Community Fund’s message. It’s about getting involved and talking to the community about what’s going on. We connect to the everyday givers, provide the community with high-quality information, and help them to them to feel confident in, and good about, their gift. When someone feels successful, they don’t stop and they want to do it again. We also lift up what others in the community are doing with regard to time, talent and treasure. We endeavor to provide leadership in philanthropy.
Q: How are you documenting this project?
A: In some ways, it’s documenting itself. Daily Deeds commits to providing a report within so many days. Documenting the whole effort, however, is something we have to get our arms around so we can take it to the next level. W. K. Kellogg’s reporting requirements, and opportunities like this one to share also help with documenting. We tell people how things are going along the way through mail, e-mail and social messages but we have not yet found the pathway beyond what I’ve just described to document with intention. It’s because we want the Black community in Kansas Cityto appreciate the advancements we have made together, we know it’s important to find time to document how we got here so the work has have a life outside of the internal drive in our office!
Q: Where can people go to find additional information?