What CAN YOU do?
Weeks following the onset of the protests against the senseless killing of Blacks in this country corporations as well as individuals are now asking… What can I do? Great question! I’m glad you asked. I am all about actionable next steps. If this gets too painful at any point you are free to go back to your lives and continue to ignore the solutions staring us in the face that could make a real impact on Black lives.
I will address this at two levels 1) corporations (small and large) as well as 2) individuals. The truth is if you’re not a politician all you can do is vote and be a loud citizen putting pressure on your representatives to change laws that allow for lenient sentences when Black people are murdered, especially by law enforcement. This list goes beyond that which is less controllable into impactful, empowering, and alliance.
Listed in order of impact:
Side note: First stop giving all your millions to national organizations that make you look good from a PR perspective. That comes across as unauthentic, out of touch, and triggering, to be frank. Talk to your Black employees outside of Executive leadership to see where they live and what they care about. Multiply your impact by applying each of these ideas to low revenue nonprofits and social missioned organizations founded by Blacks. Measure impact based on outcomes for that organization.
- Strategic Partner: Become a strategic partner to a low revenue nonprofit or social mission organization that is striving to empower URG (underrepresented groups) especially within your industry. Strategic partnerships align long-term corporate giving with multi-year, joint program development that provides solutions (i.e. hiring pipeline). These partnerships may include launching new initiatives, implementing new developments, and funding programs.
- Event Sponsorship: Reach new and engaged audiences by sponsoring an event and help build a community around a shared cause. Possible events include a community ride, panel discussion, or milestone gala.
- Field Program Sponsorship: Work with our team to make a direct impact in the field by funding innovative programs.
- Cause Marketing: Increase sales, build brand awareness, and demonstrate your commitment to diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Initiatives include a donation with purchase, hosting fundraising events, and percentage of sales donations.
- Employee Engagement: Connect your employees to the cause through fundraising and workplace giving. Multiply employee giving through matching gifts, learning experiences, and service days.
- Advocacy Partners: Advocacy partners promote Black-owned organizations, clients, and talent within the industry through their channels and networks to gain access and information. They ensure their vendor, supplier, and employee list demonstrates their commitment as advocacy partners. Remove barriers to entry, ensure Black voices are heard, taken seriously, and their rights are respected.
Side note: As noted to corporations that same is mostly true for individuals. Look locally whenever possible to have the biggest impact, shared perspective, and most meaningful experience all around. While it is nice to support international organizations there may be Black communities in your own backyard that are truly suffering. If there are no Black communities near you or even more than a handful of Black families… well, that’s another post!
- Join the Board of a Black-Owned Nonprofit or For-Profit: See the struggles from the inside. Use your professional experience, time, and skills to foster a strong organization. Strategically plan for the future of a Black-owned company through a long-term commitment.
- Attend and Give at Events (even virtual): Most organizations hold launch parties, fundraising events, galas, etc. to financially support their organization. These are critical events that can help fund their ability to stay open or expand their reach. Many small Black-owned organizations do not get funding or grants needed to carry out their mission due to low staffing, rigorous granting requirements, lack of access, and more. As an individual attending, participating and giving at events could be very impactful… and bring a friend!
- Skilled Volunteering: There is rarely a skill that a growing Black-owned organization does not need. You’ve got a skill, occupation, hobby, or interest that translates to skilled volunteering. Leverage your expertise to build up a small nonprofit-often without paid staff. Have a measurable goal you hope to reach that is more than a day of service to strengthen the infrastructure of the organization. Do it once, do it twice, keep doing it. Help them build and sustain their capacity to successfully achieve their missions.
- Employee Engagement: Many companies offer matching gifts, learning experiences, and service days multiply your donations by giving to low revenue Black-owned companies. If your company does not offer these benefits apply some pressure internally that they seriously consider these options.
- Cause Marketing: Yes, repost, retweet, follow, and share messaging created by Black-owned companies. Spread the word! We know the power of social media these days but it seems to be used more often for trendy superficial reasons. Use it for good. Do more than adding a hashtag especially if you’re an influencer direct people to take action by supporting these organizations.
- Advocate: Promote Black-owned businesses within your networks and channels. Commit to purchasing from Black-owned companies. Ensure Black-owned organizations are being heard, taken seriously, and that their rights are respected. Help with access to capital, opportunity, etc. wherever you can. Speak up for them don’t wait for them to ask for help.
Congratulations you made it to the bottom of my list. This list is by no means exhaustive and does not reflect the needs of every Black-owned organization. The fact that you’ve read this speaks volumes… now go TAKE ACTION!