Event seeks to change traditional view about philanthropy

Event seeks to change traditional view about philanthropy
October 19
05:00 2017

By Bridget Elam, For The Chronicle

What is philanthropy?  Generally, people consider philanthropy as an act by a wealthy person to give money to a cause, organization or individual.  By this definition, those who are not wealthy are disqualified from being philanthropists.

According the representatives of the Black Philanthropy Initiative (BPI) of the Winston Salem Foundation, this could not be further from the truth.

On Oct. 12, BPI hosted its 10th annual fundraiser at the Milton Rhodes Arts Center. The reception, held in the Reynolds Place room, welcomed and catered to several dozen guests.  Equipped with live music and food, the reception had several speakers who talked about the efforts and successes of BPI to assist African-Americans in the Winston Salem community.

Judge Denise S. Hartsfield, the event’s emcee, spoke about how pleased she was to see different faces at the reception.

“I am pleased to see that there are younger people in this group.  That means that the word is getting out and that this work will continue on,” said Hartsfield. 

There’s no secret that African-Americans have been among the most disadvantaged and disenfranchised ethnic groups in America.  In fact, the reception provided literature that stated 52 percent of African-Americans living in Winston Salem reside in only three ZIP codes: 27101, 27105 and 27107.  In addition, three-quarters of Forsyth County residents who rely on the bus system to get to work are African-Americans.  For BPI, these numbers say a lot about the community and the actions that are needed to rectify and reverse their trajectory.

This year’s theme was titled “Rethink: Philanthropy.”  It was a plea for reception-goers to look at philanthropy differently than traditionally viewed.

“People think philanthropy is people giving thousands of dollars away.  But that’s not philanthropy,” said Roger Hyman, BPI’s chairman. “If we look back historically to the African-American community, we have always done philanthropy.  Philanthropy started with the church.  The church used to be the storehouse where you can get your needs met.  Also, in communities with people of color, we would borrow a cup of sugar or rice.  That, in and of itself, is philanthropy.  We want people to rethink the way they give.”

While BPI receives donations from individuals, it builds relationships with businesses and organizations.  Currently, BPI has a matching program with First Tennessee Bank.  During the reception, the bank presented a $10,000 check to BPI.

“BPI makes First Tennessee [Bank] feel like family, feel like home.  That is the result of a relationship that has been built over the last five years,” said Angie Murphrey, the Community Development Manager of First Tennessee Bank. “In banking, building a trusting relationship is at the core of our business. BPI rose to the surface issues that need to be magnified and supported in this community.”

Early next year, BPI expects to see additional statistics gathered by the Gramercy Research group regarding the African-American condition in the Winston Salem community.  These numbers will provide more insight and opportunities for BPI to direct its funds in the most optimal ways possible.

Rethinking ideas about giving is BPI’s priority.  Included in the refocus about philanthropy, BPI asks current and potential donors to consider giving their time, talent and treasure. 

“Time and talent are just as important as treasure in our community. We’ve been doing it for a long time.  We want people to rethink that and bring it back,” said Lisa Avinger, an advisory committee member of BPI.

For more information on the Black Philanthropy Initiative or to learn how you can get involved, contact Sabrina Slade at or Lisa Avinger at or call 336-725-2382. To make an online donation, please visit 

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