By Willa Conway
It is rare indeed that people give. Most people guard and keep; they suppose it is they themselves that they are guarding and keeping, whereas what they are actually guarding and keeping is their system of reality and what they assume themselves to be. One can give nothing whatever without giving oneself—that is to say, risking oneself. If one cannot risk oneself, then one is simply incapable of giving. And, after all, one can give freedom only by setting someone free.
– James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time
I’ve been thinking about this James Baldwin quote in relationship to philanthropy for the past two years and it has come up even more strongly through the It Starts Today Campaign and our task to raise $1 million for Black lead organizing. What does it mean for me to give? I have money that I was taught to give away philanthropically from an early age. Yet, I’ve never felt that Baldwin was calling me to simply write checks to organizations that I have a connection to or that move me. This is a type of giving, but I do … Continue reading »