black philanthropy

Giving Black: The Transformative Power of Black Philanthropy

Philanthropy plays a crucial role in creating positive change and addressing societal issues, particularly in the Black community.

By promoting equity, addressing systemic inequality, and supporting individual and community empowerment, philanthropy can make a significant impact.

Christal, the founder of Head and Heart Philanthropy, is dedicated to helping people and organizations maximize their impact through her social impact firm. She also serves as a board member of the National Black MBA Association and as the Chair of the Board of the Africa-America Institute.

In this interview, we delve into Christal’s perspective on philanthropy and her endeavors to empower the Black community through her work.

What inspired you to become a philanthropist?

The goal was never to be a philanthropist as much as it was to be a good citizen.  I believe when you are blessed you should seek to be a blessing to others.

I can not remember a time growing up when my family was not giving to help people.  In my mind, it’s the normal human response to help people when they need it and you have the capacity, especially when your support will make a difference.

As a senior in high school, I was selected to be a part of a United Way initiative called Kid’s Way.  This opportunity provided me with a life-changing opportunity to see up close the importance of philanthropy. We were involved in every aspect from raising the funds to being a part of the deployment of capital.

I’m so fortunate to be able to build a career around my values.   It was what I saw in my family and early exposure to the sector was very impactful.  Being engaged in philanthropy is a great way to serve others.

What are some common misconceptions about philanthropy?

One of the biggest misconceptions is that you have to be extremely wealthy and that’s not the case.  We all have something to give and that’s where you start.  I started by supporting ideas and organizations that I’m passionate about.

Most people may not know that my first convening and the five years to follow were all about the role of philanthropy in addressing stubborn social problems.

I still believe as I have for nearly two decades that philanthropy is a very important sector.  Being engaged in philanthropy has a way of bringing people from diverse walks of life and lived experiences to focus on one common goal.

What are your top philanthropic interests and why?

My top philanthropic interest is supporting young people.  I believe it is very important to support the leadership development of young people.  It gives them a sense of ownership of the world that they will have to live in and manage.

As board chair of the Africa-America Institute, my exposure to the tremendous talent on the continent of Africa will likely be a place where I hope to make an impact through philanthropy.

What is your impact investing thesis?

My work for the past two decades has been focused on closing gaps.  One of those gaps is economic.  When financial issues are addressed then many of the other societal issues will also be addressed.

The global pandemic showed us the impact of years of lack of investment in underserved entrepreneurs revealing how fragile our society has become.

My thesis is pretty straightforward if we can invest in those proximate to innovators and entrepreneurs, then we are closer to creating an inclusive economy where everyone can participate.    An inclusive economy is a healthy economy and that is good for everyone.

What advice do you have for aspiring philanthropists?

My advice to aspiring philanthropists is to start giving where you are with what you have. 🙂

In the words of the late great, Gwendolyn Brooks, “We are each other’s harvest; we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.”

by Tony O. Lawson

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