Black Charities: How to Make the Community Connections Work



Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are names that may not be well received these days in light of the mortgage crisis that has swept the country. 

The government takeover of these giants in 2008, after their loss of billions of dollars amid the meltdown in the subprime mortgage business, impacted another community enterprise—Black charities. 

In many communities, the funding provided through the foundations of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, particularly Black charities, were in jeopardy of losing support after the takeover and reassessment of the agencies’ operations. 

A federal overseer approved continued support to the local charities supported by the foundation of Virginia-based Freddie Mac, one in particular, Doorways for Women and Families located in Arlington, Virginia that helps combat homelessness.

According to the Arlington Connection, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, which is headquartered in Washington, D.C., were the largest charitable donors in the Washington, D.C. area in 2007 distributing almost $50 million.  For the Black charities supported by them in that area, they represent the largest contributors thus having that funding support discontinued would be devastating. 

According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, the Federal Housing Agency has assured the over 400 non-profit groups that count on Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae for funding would continue to receive it, but could not determine whether the amounts would be the same. 

In light of the changing dynamics in giving and the large number of financial institutions who have either closed down,  been nationalized or streamlined their giving to remain afloat, Black charities have had to redirect its efforts to keep their doors open and missions alive.   Among the tools that Black charities are utilizing during these times include information, resource sharing and increasing technical assistance.

Following the model that is used in the corporate arena, non-profits have increased their collaborations with other organizations to cut costs and increase profitability. While these organizations may not be as well connected as their mainstream counterparts, they are discovering community partners within their local churches, clinics and schools who have stepped up with common goals and shared responsibilities to achieve them.  

Organizations such as the Institute for Black Charities, which is a case in point of one such group that is focused on community building and utilizing available resources to help organizations to reach their goals within the Black community. 

The Institute provides help for existing Black charities and assistance to establishing new ones if there is a specific need.    Its major objective is to “match those who can help to those who need help.” Having a “go to” location for organization building is a must for Black charities to survive and grow and to fulfill their respective missions. 

The Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae story only emphasizes the importance for Black charities to diversify its resource support and to identify a wider range of outlets on the local, state and national levels.  The Institute for Black Charities is one of a few organizations that is driving the new model of philanthropy from a much needed grass roots perspective.

Mereday is a contributing writer for Regal Black Men’s Magazine.

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