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Celebrate Black History Month! The Health of your Fundraising Platform May Depend On It...

Celebrate Black History Month! The Health of your Fundraising Platform May Depend On It...

Chapter Leadership Brief 2.25.2022

"Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. Also known as African American History Month…"
"'The Black History Month 2022 theme, 'Black Health and Wellness,' explores 'the legacy of not only Black scholars and medical practitioners in Western medicine, but also other ways of knowing (e.g., birthworkers, doulas, midwives, naturopaths, herbalists, etc.) throughout the African Diaspora. The 2022 theme considers activities, rituals and initiatives that Black communities have done to be well."" (
As I reflect on the theme for this year's Black History Month, what it means to me and what it may mean to others. I think of the African American  medical pioneers who showed extreme bravery and courage as they aspired toward their professional dreams in the face of extreme adversity and lack of access(
James McCune Smith, born into salvery in New York City, became the first Black Physician to have his own practice and pharmacy in the United States

Daniel Hale Williams, founded the first black-owned hospital in America, and performed the world’s first successful heart surgery in 1893

Patricia Bath, Born in 1942 in Harlem, Bath is a pioneer who was instrumental in the treatment and prevention of blindness.
Solomon Fuller, was the first Black psychiatrist in the United States, he conducted substantial research regarding degenerative diseases of the brain.  Fuller worked with and translated German neuropathologist Alois Alzheimer's work into English.
Charles Drew, Drew is the ultimate medical pioneer. As a surgeon, he developed ground-breaking ways to store blood plasma in blood banks. His work made the way for the modern blood transfusion.

What do all of these medical pioneers have in common and how does this apply to the way your organization can enrich the way it raises funds?  They are all a part of the African Diaspora and they were all the first in their field. In each case, someone was able to see their brilliant talents and not stand in the way of what they could accomplish just because no one in the modern world had ever seen anyone who looked like them perform what must have been considered as miraculous acts.  The medical geniuses listed above were able to express their thoughts and put their ingenuity to work to solve problems which had never been solved in the past and we are all better for it. 
The same can happen for your Organization, Board, staff and recipients of your direct service work.
If you haven't done so already, institute the celebration of Black History Month into your organization's culture. 
Look for ways to incorporate IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access)  Ideals into your fundraising strategies, Donor Research, Board composition and diversification of your organization's leadership.  Consider joining one of AFP-NYC's committees where we are actively engaged in the conversation and are doing the work.  Everyone your organization impacts will be better for it too. 
"History despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be faced again."- Maya Angelou

Thank you for your leadership and commitment to professional fundraising.
With gratitude,
P.S. - If you are not already engaged in AFP-NYC, I want to encourage you to get involved ( and add your voice to the conversation.  We are stronger together. 
P.P.S. – I am honored to serve as the Chair of the IDEA Committee of AFP-NYC.  Alongside my colleagues  Christa Orth and Pinky Vincent Co Vice-Chairs of the IDEA Committee.

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