Group portrait, June 2016 (in celebration of our 10th anniversary) Photo credit: Ebony Stubbs

With more than $2 billion in charitable assets, Foundation For The Carolinas (FFTC) supports corporate and personal philanthropy through a range of innovative giving options.

Collective giving programs, such as the Charlotte Lesbian and Gay Fund (CLGF) and New Generation of African American Philanthropists (NGAAP), are a way for people with shared interests to pool their donations and decide as a group where to make grants.

Both groups, though structured differently, have similar goals — to give to nonprofits that support unmet needs in their communities and to inspire philanthropy.

Valaida Fullwood, co-founder of NGAAP (pronounced En-gap), wanted to create a non-traditional fund — one in which she had her own skin in the game. “It’s your money rather than other people’s money that you’re making grants with,” she said. “I liked the idea of creating something from scratch, where a group of us could pool our funds and be more nimble in how we make grants and are responsive to the community.”

Serving the African American community 

Founded in 2006, the giving circle of about 35 members promotes philanthropy among African Americans in the Charlotte region and awards grants to local organizations that serve the African American community.

Fullwood said part of the appeal of a giving circle is that it aligns with African and black American values and traditions around community, connection and unity. NGAAP’s grantmaking process starts with the members examining current issues impacting the black community. Then they explore who or what organization is doing effective work in that area and invite those people or organizations to submit grant proposals.

In recent years, social justice issues have been at the top of the list. In 2016, NGAAP awarded grants to Changed Choices, which takes a holistic approach to helping formerly incarcerated women transition back into the community with dignity, and Dedication to Community, which leads educational forums with CMS high school students on public safety, the role of police, and how best to interact with law enforcement.

While the minimum threshold to establish a charitable fund at a community foundation can run into the tens of thousands of dollars, NGAAP members meet those requirements, collectively, by donating at least $365 apiece annually (a dollar a day).

Having their say

Click image for “Philanthropy Reframed,” a brief video

For NGAAP members, promoting black philanthropy is an essential part of why they exist. “We aim to reframe portraits of philanthropy — to tell stories of philanthropy from the black perspective, which is often absent from the big philanthropy picture because the (image) you see is black people as recipients, not as the givers,” Fullwood said. “We wanted to lift up our story of giving.”

In 2011, NGAAP published Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists, which “captures many of the stories and imagery of our giving circle members and our experience, and beyond our circle as well,” Fullwood said.

All sales from the book go back to the giving circle, which also furthers NGAAP’s mission by advancing ideas around black philanthropy and giving circles beyond Charlotte. A collaboration with Johnson C. Smith University via a grant from The Institute of Museum and Library Services transformed the book into an exhibition in 2015 that travels to schools and museums around the country and will land in Columbia, S.C., in February.

“That’s been a gift that continues to give,” Fullwood said.

Learn more about NGAAP and how you can donate or become a member.

Serving Charlotte’s LGBT community

Like NGAAP, members of the Charlotte Lesbian and Gay Fund (CLGF) decide where their dollars go. There are several levels of membership starting with annual gifts of $1,000 or more ($500 for those under 30). Donations of $25 or more are encouraged for those who wish to support the fund, but can not commit to membership.

CLGF, which recently celebrated its 15th anniversary, awards grants through three programs to nonprofits that support the LGBT community, as well as bridge-building initiatives that seek to cultivate alliances and support with the non-gay community in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

The application process for grants is now open; submission deadlines are in early February.

Programs, Projects and Events Grants are awarded to encourage 501(c)3 nonprofits to serve the LGBT community either directly or in partnership with another organization. LGBT and non-LGBT organizations are eligible for a PPE Grant of up to $5,000. Application deadline: Noon, Feb. 9. Click to apply.

In 2017, CLGF awarded grants totaling more than $35,000 to a dozen diverse projects, including:

• $2,850 to Time Out Youth for Melanin and MagicQ: Queer Youth of Color, a 10‐week structured discussion group series for youth of color.
• $3,500 to One Voice Chorus for a new work about Bayard Rustin, who served as personal assistant to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and was an organizer of the 1963 March on Washington. One Voice will perform The Man Behind the Dream on April 8 at Mint Museum Uptown.

Basic Operating Grants are intended to build capacity and strengthen the effectiveness of 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations serving Charlotte’s LGBT community, outside of an HIV/AIDS focus. Grants will be awarded to support general operations of organizations that fulfill CLGF’s mission. Nearly $100,000 was awarded in 2017 to 10 organizations, including Campus Pride and The Freedom Center for Social Justice. Application deadline: Noon, Feb. 2.  Click to apply.

Grassroots Lane Grants, a new program, are awarded to build capacity and strengthen the effectiveness of startup organizations with or without 501(c)3 nonprofit status serving the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, up to $2,000 per organization. Grassroots Lane grant applications are taken throughout the year. Check out the application guide.

Learn more about CLGF and how you can donate or become a member.

[RELATED STORY: African American Community Foundation provides funding to local nonprofits working to address health, educational, and economic disparities in the black community]

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