By Sadé Dozan, Chief of Operations & Development at Caring Across Generations
Remember that you carry within you the spirit of those who fundraised, not just for survival, but for the thriving of generations to come. Embrace this heritage, draw strength from it, and let the echoes of their heartbeats guide you in reshaping the narrative of philanthropy.
To the Young, Black Fundraiser:
We need you.
As you navigate the complexities of what it means to be Black in Philanthropy, I need to say thank you. Thank you for daring to do this — and I see you. Your journey is both an exploration of uncharted terrain and a continuation of a legacy that spans centuries. I’ve been you, and many times, I am still you.
Black people have been at the center of conversations about resources for centuries. Our contributions — be it through the toil of our bodies or the brilliance of our talents — have created a tapestry of wealth that often eludes our grasp. The core of wealth we have generated that remains out of reach leaves behind wounds that cut deep into our collective experience. We deserve better, you deserve better. Not acknowledging the systems we work within while we try to dismantle these inequities doesn’t do us any justice. And we deserve justice.
You come from an ancestry of heartbeats who fundraise better than the books will let you believe. Our people have been at the forefront of fundraising and resource-building, weaving a narrative of resilience and collective action that predates formal studies. The books don’t tell these stories in full. But the beating hearts of our ancestors echo through time, calling upon us to continue their legacy. Remember that you carry within you the spirit of those who fundraised, not just for survival, but for the thriving of generations to come. Embrace this heritage, draw strength from it, and let the echoes of their heartbeats guide you in reshaping the narrative of philanthropy.
And yes, as you continue on this journey, it’s crucial to recognize that you will encounter hurdles unique to your experience. Unique to being Black in Fundraising. Black in Philanthropy. Shared with others — but unique just the same. The road ahead is paved with systemic barriers and disparities, and this…this is why we need you. Together, we have to confront these challenges head-on.
From the historical underinvestment in Black-led initiatives with the lack of resources allocated to projects addressing the specific needs of our communities to the microaggressions sprinkled throughout the repetitive lack of trust in resources in Black hands. I know it is hard. And, we need you even still.
You are not only a fundraiser — you are a torchbearer. Carry the torch lit by those who understood the profound impact of collective action. Let the drumbeat resonate. Forge connections, break barriers, and know that sometimes just showing up is powerful.
View every challenge as both an obstacle and an opportunity to amplify your greatness. This is about this moment and those before you. I am witness to your greatness in progress. And I am so glad you are here.
Do what you need to for the safety of your soul. The dances of nuanced communication within predominantly white institutions are exhausting. Find spaces for joy. The language of philanthropy, often steeped in privilege, can be an exhausting barrier. Center yourself in your why. Why are you resource mobilizing? Call it in the center, write it on your board — and recoup your joy within it.
As you navigate these spaces, remember that your perspective is an asset. Your intrinsic knowledge is an asset. You are an asset. Have courageous conversations, and don’t believe the “there aren’t that many Black fundraisers” narrative. We are here. We are with you. And again, I say we need you.
I leave you with a few words, things I’ve learned over the two decades I’ve been steeped in the nonprofit industrial complex. Here are a few of my not-so-secret secrets: Center Joy, Find Community, and Keep Innovating.
Center Joy: Understand that setbacks are not a reflection of your worth or the value of your cause. Fundraising is a marathon, not a sprint. Harness the strength of those who came before you, recognizing that their endurance and tenacity live on in you. Find the why, looking inward, because then you can convince yourself to go forward each morning. Care for yourself while you are caring for others. Keep the spark alive.
Find Community: Find your tribe — in the traditional African sense — your familial village of support. Seek out mentors and allies who understand the nuances of Black fundraising. We are plenty, and I personally am here if you need me. A supportive network can provide guidance, share experiences, and bolster your resilience. Remember, you are not alone; we are united in this journey.
Keep Innovating: Challenge the norms. Black communities have a deep history of resourcefulness and innovation — because we’ve always been resource builders. Embrace creative approaches to your work that align with the needs and aspirations of your community. Your authenticity and ingenuity will set you apart. You belong here.
As you navigate the challenges ahead, remember that your journey is not just about fundraising; it’s about reshaping narratives, challenging systems, and contributing to a legacy of transformative change. By staying true to your roots, embracing challenges as opportunities, and building a supportive community, you have the power to redefine the landscape of philanthropy.
With unwavering support and belief in your potential,
A slightly older Black Fundraiser,
Sadé Dozan, CFRE
Sadé Dozan (she/her) is the Chief of Operations & Development at Caring Across Generations, where she anchors a national care-movement organization committed to reshaping the landscape of care. Her focus is on making care systems, including paid leave, aging & disability care, and child care, accessible and affordable for all stages of life. Her career in resource-building and nonprofit development has spanned the spectrum—inter-generational campaigns, health initiatives, economic development—and one thing is clear: fundraising is organizing. Sadé’s mission is to revolutionize how we perceive resource development and philanthropy—across all movement work.
Her call to action centers around creating a world where the resourced and those resourcing are one and the same. A world where impactful individuals control investments in their communities. She advocates for a future where Black women wield influence at every pivotal decision point. Built on a foundation of over two decades of impactful work, Sadé is steadfast in crafting a framework that centers this vision—disrupting scarcity mentalities, reshaping philanthropic narratives, and instigating systemic change.
You can find her on LinkedIn, she’d love to connect with you.
You can learn about her legacy project—Melanate!