Reconciliation and Restoration panel discussion at Methodist Auditorium.

On June 16th, the Reconciliation and Restoration Foundation hosted dynamic women from across the DFW gathered for an afternoon to discuss navigating the nonprofit world, specifically as a Black woman. There are about 140,000 nonprofits registered in Texas and 17,000 nonprofits in Dallas alone. When it comes to Black women receiving funding for their philanthropic efforts – as the kids say – “the math ain’t mathin.” According to the Women’s Foundation of the South, “only .25% of funding actually reaches women & girls of color.” With numbers like these, it would be easy for Black women in the nonprofit world to feel defeated before even getting started. This intimate conversation with heavy-hitters in the nonprofit game presented an optimistic approach. Even the attendees were some of the most well known names in Dallas’s Black philanthropy circle. Errika Flood-Moultrie, founder of Connections Multiplied, Akilah Wallace who is one of the founders of HERitage Giving Fund, the first Black giving circle serving North Texas and even Cynt Marshall, CEO of the Dallas Mavericks was in the room.

Dr. Froswa Booker-Drew. Photo Credit: Dallas Weekly

Dr. Froswa Booker-Drew, President and CEO of Soulstice Consultancy and founder of the Reconciliation and Restoration Foundation, began the discussion with esteemed panelists Abena Asante who is the Senior Program Officer of St. David’s Foundation, Ashley Douglas who is the VP of Southern Dallas Thrives and Michelle Thomas, Executive Director for Global Philanthropy for JPMorgan Chase. Dr. Booker-Drew has an extensive background in nonprofit management, partnership development, training, and education. This year Dr. Froswa Booker-Drew was one of 4 women who were honored at this year’s Texas Women’s Foundation ceremony. During the discussion Dr. Froswa Booker-Drew asked very direct questions clarifying and demystifying what it truly means to work in philanthropy. Although all the panelists work with or for a nonprofit, they all work within drastically different industries like healthcare or finance. One question that made the crowd chuckle was “Are people in philanthropy just there to cut a check?” But it was clear that question was needed based on some of the experiences shared by the panelists with the crowd.

Michelle Thomas stated that like all things, people need to understand there is a process to receiving philanthropic funding.

Please have your facts and information together. Don’t omit information that is needed and provide information we don’t need. Because we will know…

Michelle Thomas, Executive Director for Global Philanthropy for JPMorgan Chase

Both Abena Asante and Ashley Douglas echoed similar statements about the importance of doing your homework and educating yourself on not only how to request funding but building equitable relationships. And if you’re lucky enough as a Black woman seeking funding to run into a Black woman who can help provide funding, listen to her advice. Things like data collection and projections are pivotal to your success. It’s no different than asking for a bank loan and proving your credibility in order to receive funding. Also similar to acquiring a bank loan, one must have a really good relationship with the one providing the funding. This is actually standard practice for almost any type of philanthropic funding. At this year’s LMA Fest in Chicago, Terry Quinn who is the CDO at Texas Tribune spoke on philanthropic funding for journalism, and emphasized the importance of relationship building. Stating that it literally makes or breaks the opportunity and outcome of your request. This strategy is especially important for Black women, because simply stated, there’s no room for error.

Panelists L-R, Abena Asante, Michelle Thomas & Ashley Douglas. Photo Credit: Dallas Weekly

During the break, I was able to catch panelist Abena Asante who has over 20+ years of experience and leads efforts that catalyze community action around issues and opportunities that align with her firm’s commitment to achieve health equity. I asked her why this conversation is needed.

It needs to be understood that Black women have been in been in philanthropy since the beginning. From African ancestors to women who were enslaved here in the US, we have been doing the work. So Black women need to know they have resources and people like us that they can rely on.

Abena Asante

The next section of the conversation moved to a fireside chat with Dr. Froswa Booker-Drew and LaToyia Dennis who is a skilled fundraiser with 20+ years experience and founder of Motivated Mom. The two chatted about their experiences in philanthropy – both good and bad – and the do’s & dont’s as Black women in philanthropy. Keynote speaker Toya Nash Randall, founder of Voice. Vision. Value. also shared her experiences and gave key’s to the innerworkings of successful fundraising. As Curator and Catalyst of VVV, Toya has mobilized a multi-generational collaborative network of partners and investors committed to celebrating, uplifting, and sustaining the leadership presence and contribution of Black women working in the sector. 

Overall, conversation was informational, enlightening and most of all encouraging. It’s always beneficial for people of similar interests to come together and collaborate on ideas. But specifically for Black women, it’s crucial to create safe spaces like this. Between the panelists & speakers, there was almost 120 years of experience specifically in Black philanthropy. It was an awe-inspiring moment that I’m excited to see the fruits of.

Jess Washington is the CEO and Director of Finance for the Dallas Weekly. Her job is to oversee company operations, develop strategic relationships both in the community and for marketing service partnerships.