NCGives wants to transform giving

By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — NCGives, a new fund at the North Carolina Community Foundation, aims to change the way North Carolinians and foundations in the state give and think about giving.

Created with a $6 million gift from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, Mich., NCGives aims to “celebrate, connect, inspire and grow giving,” mainly among communities of color, women and youth.

“There’s never going to be enough money,” says Donna Chavis, its new executive director. “We’re hoping that the vision of NCGives becomes embedded throughout North Carolina so it’s a more inclusionary process and it’s leveraging more resources into communities of need.”

The giving NCGives is promoting includes not only money, but also time and know-how, and is an asset not exclusive to charitable foundations or wealthy white men but deeply shared by multi-racial and multi-ethnic groups, women and young people, she says.

“NCGives is about philanthropy with time, talent and money, the full engagement in the civic culture,” says Chavis, a Robeson County native who formerly was chief operating officer of the Center for Community Action in Lumberton and served as founding executive director of Native Americans in Philanthropy, an affinity group of the Council on Foundations in Washington, D.C.

Rather than make grants to organizations serving the population groups that are its focus, she says, NCGives has teamed up with five founding partners, including consultants, nonprofits and a statewide coalition, that in turn work to help NCGives’ constituents be more effective givers.

Raleigh-based Creative Philanthropy, for example, has helped develop women’s “giving circles” throughout the state, while Durham-based Hindsight Consulting has helped develop African-American giving circles, and the San Francisco-based Youth Leadership Institute has helped develop youth grantmaking efforts in six North Carolina communities.

A fourth partner, the North Carolina People’s Coalition for Giving, has developed a statewide network of roughly 30 people of color across sectors like financial services, foundations, academia and nonprofits.

The coalition has focused on better equipping its members to cultivate more effective giving among multi-cultural populations and to work with mainstream foundations to better represent and serve those populations.

The fifth partner, the nonprofit Center for Participatory Change in Asheville, is working with community-based groups in Western North Carolina to help their staffs and boards, and the recipients of their services, see themselves as givers.

“They are building the capacity of that donor base,” says Chavis, “and building their understanding of giving and their capacity to give.”

NCGives, launched with a conference last March in Research Triangle Park, plans this year to add new partners; convene groups, possibly on a regional basis; and develop a strategy to better tell its story.

NCGives currently is in talks with potential partners that would focus on giving among American Indians, and with foundations that would support giving among the populations NCGives is targeting and improve the “recognition, collaboration and inclusion of our primary audiences in the mainstream foundation world,” Chavis says.

The goal of NCGives, she says, is to create a “mindshift” about giving.

“If we’re not embedding the inclusionary spirit,” says Chavis, “it’s just another giving program.”

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