Cultural Philanthropy: Haitians Join in Philanthropy for Ayiti

Yes, Haitians are philanthropists too! This was my response to a person recently who was surprised when I was talking about how we at Ayiti Community Trust are mobilizing Haitians throughout the globe to build an endowment fund for the country. This tells me that people may not see us as philanthropists. From my experience, Haitians are one of the most philanthropic groups that I know. However, our philanthropy looks different and more culturally congruent. There is a difference between creating a culture of philanthropy and cultural philanthropy. The words cultural philanthropy often evokes a focus on philanthropy that focused on arts and culture. What I mean by cultural philanthropy is how different cultural groups are engaging in philanthropy to promote

development in their countries. The word philanthropy is often associated with White and high-income individuals. We rarely pay attention to how different ethnic and cultural groups engage in philanthropy to promote development in their communities and countries. For example, a couple of years ago, we had a plantain farmer who offered us some of the regime plantains as his contributions to the fund. When he sold these sets of plantains, he gave us the money. This is a true example of cultural philanthropy that we must acknowledge and celebrate.

To promote the role that Haitians are playing in philanthropy, this year, during Haitian Heritage month, one of the most visible celebrations of Haitian heritage and cultures across the globe, Ayiti Community Trust launched Haitian Heritage month fundraising campaign with a $10, 000 goal. We sought to celebrate our culture while also show ways that Haitians are engaging in philanthropy. As a result, we had over 50 people join in the fundraising campaign throughout the US and Canada, and we exceed our goal!!

So the message is clear. Let's broaden our perspectives about philanthropy to shine a light on the various ways that different ethnic groups are engaging in philanthropy. We are starting the discussion with our experience with Haitians. Yes, Haitians are philanthropists!

By Guerda Nicolas, PhD; President of Ayiti Community Trust