Program Recap: 2022 Fall Kick Off Breakfast

More than 250 people gathered in-person for WID’s 2022 Fall Breakfast Kick-off held on Thursday, November 3, at the Westin Copley Place. Fundraising professionals from Boston and beyond caught up with peers across the industry and make new connections during a lively networking session before settling in for an engaging and insightful talk from guest speaker Dr. Makeeba McCreary, president of the New Commonwealth Racial Equity and Social Justice Fund (NCF).

With the goal of supporting Black and Brown communities, the fund was founded in 2020 amidst the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and in the aftermath of the brutal police killing of George Floyd and other racially charged incidents. In its first 18 months, NCF raised $30 million toward its $100 million goal—resources that are being used to support non-profits committed to disrupting and dismantling systemic racism in Boston and across the state.

In her talk, titled “Resilient Leadership and Fundraising,” Dr. McCreary spoke about reframing philanthropy in several different ways, including through the language we use and the stories we tell.

“There is real strength in your choice of language,” she told the crowd.

For example, shifting from a term like “grantmaking” to a word like “investing” brings about a completely different connation—one of investing in a community and being respectful of non-profit leaders and their knowledge, skills, and experience to allocate funds where they are needed most.

Dr. McCreary also spoke of storytelling and its power to counter the harmful narratives that exist about communities of color. In recalling a recent talk by social entrepreneur Trabian Shorters, Dr. McCreary explained how he spoke of the reality of the narratives that get spun versus the stories that could be told­—and provided several eye-opening statistics.

“Black men are the most likely to serve our country…so might we say they are the most patriotic of our community?” Dr. McCreary pointed out. “Folks of color give the greatest percentage of their income to charity. Interesting framing to think about generosity in that way.

“And the last one is my favorite: black men are the most engaged fathers.”

She went on to share a quote from Shorters: “When we hide the aspirations and contributions of people, we tell a half-truth on them, and we fundamentally undermine the case for equity.”

The moral of the story, Dr. McCreary said, is to tell “the whole truth.”

“I am encouraging you to think of how you frame the communities and people that your organizations serve… in ways that reinforce how incredibly contributing they are.”

In ending her talk, Dr. McCready posed a challenge to the group; one that she acknowledged would take courage and wasn’t without risks—but could lead to a tremendous shift.

“What if you walked into your next meeting with a funder, and you said, ‘We are so grateful for this $5 million [gift] to support early childcare, but right now we are really struggling with alumni engagement, or being able to supplement housing costs, or just having the flexibility to have unrestricted dollars because there is so much flux in the communities we serve.’ What if you said that?” she asked the crowd.

“I know—no guarantees,” she acknowledged. “But I would be down to be in the room with you to have that conversation. And I think there are a lot of folks in the philanthropic sector who would also rise to the challenge.”


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