Angela Logan, Ph.D., told her grandfather at age four that she wanted to be a doctor and a cheerleader. “I think the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders were really popular at the time, which influenced my thinking!” she laughed.
While the medical profession didn’t interest Logan growing up, she did learn what it meant to serve others.
“The General Motors plant in Lordstown, Ohio provided me with a solid middle class experience growing up,” she said. “I learned quickly that service and giving back was the rent I paid to live on the earth AND in my mother’s house.”
Within the qualitative findings, the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) report “Women Give 2019: Gender and Giving Across Communities of Color” discovered that interviewees recalled their early experiences observing volunteering, giving, and caring for others within their families and local communities as having a powerful impact on them.
In her own research, Logan found that African-American women foundation executives experienced the strong impact of familial philanthropy during their formative years. Similar to Logan herself, these early examples of formal and informal philanthropy ignited a lifelong commitment to giving and service.
Logan watched her parents give of their time, talent, and treasure, and soon learned that was required of her as well. When she aged out of the summer program at her church, her mother told her that she had to give back in some way. After stints in the nursery (“that did not go well!”) and the kitchen, she found her niche at the registration table.
“My administrative gene clicked in as soon as I could help organize, prepare spreadsheets, and follow up with families about their payments,” Logan said.
As she grew up, Logan volunteered not only at her church, but throughout the community. She donated clothes, made financial contributions, and shared with the community what her family had earned. “Service was initially rooted in faith, but also ingrained with the understanding that this is what you do,” she said.
According to the WPI report, African-American general population households gave the most to religion, followed by basic needs. Logan’s experiences match that finding. While she first experienced philanthropy through the church, she also gave back to support basic needs and other causes in her community.
Logan also discovered this in her research: participants indicated that institutions of faith acted as the primary vehicle to express their philanthropic tendencies during their formative years.
Fast forward a few years. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in business and organizational leadership, Logan was working at Oberlin College as the director of the Bonner Scholars program.
Pondering “what next,” she received a mailing from the Center on Philanthropy about its new doctorate program.
“I had actually thought of applying for a Ph.D. in business, but it didn’t seem like the right fit,” she said. “As soon as I received that mailing, I knew I had found the right program.”
She applied, was accepted, and arrived in Indianapolis soon after as a member of the first cohort of Ph.D. students. Throughout her coursework, Logan studied the intersection of race, gender, and philanthropic leadership.
“My research interests were born out of the experience that other colleagues and I had in organizations,” she said. “As we looked at the leadership of nonprofit organizations, we’d question whether something could be done differently if there were different types of leaders in place.
“So, I started studying and analyzing what impact race and gender tied together have on the leadership of organizations. What experiences are brought to bear when we look at things through a gendered and racial lens? Different experiences, different histories, different backgrounds, but we don’t focus on those.”
Only a few weeks into the program, Logan discovered that philanthropy in communities of color was often referred to as “non-traditional philanthropy.”
“We give and volunteer not for the tax deduction or recognition, but because that is what’s done,” she said. “It’s often the purest form of giving time, talent, and treasure, but it’s not viewed in that way.”
Similar to findings in Logan’s research and experiences, Tyrone Freeman, Ph.D., assistant professor of philanthropic studies at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, has found in his research that people of color have deeply rooted traditions of giving. “African-American philanthropy spans the period of slavery to the present, but originated in precolonial West Africa. This history includes many ways of giving and sharing as a matter of daily living, as well as formal volunteering, donating, advocating, and other activities …
“In addition, informal and communal ways of giving still occur among families, friends and neighbors, as well as through organizations such as fraternities, sororities, and women’s clubs.”
This finding also links to qualitative findings from the WPI report. Interviewees linked the informal and formal definitions of philanthropy while being guided by the idea of “giving back.”
Upon finishing her coursework, Logan accepted an offer to work as a program officer in education for a small private foundation in southern Virginia. There, she continued to research and write while tying the theory in her coursework with how it lived out in practice.
After 10 years of coursework, researching, and writing, two jobs in different states, and a personal family tragedy, Logan defended her thesis, titled The Dilemmas of Bringing Your Culture With You: The Career Advancement Challenges of African-American Women Foundation Executives.
Now, Logan serves as an associate teaching professor and the St. Andre Bessette Director of Nonprofit Professional Development in the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame. She teaches the master’s thesis course and a nonprofit leadership elective at times, while designing curriculum for the school’s new master’s program. Logan also manages a team of five at the college.
Even after graduating, Logan continues to give back to the students at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.
“The members of the inaugural cohort made a vow to give back to the individuals who came after us,” she said. “I make a point to connect with current Ph.D. students, especially women of color, and stay in touch with their candidacy in order to encourage them.
“When you succeed, you have an obligation to give back to the ones coming behind you.”
She also actively volunteers with other organizations. Logan is actively involved in her faith community, serves as the president of the local chapter of an international service organization historically comprised of African-American women, and is active in her African-American sorority. She has held leadership positions within those organizations and also presented and taught courses internationally at conferences.
In her leadership role, Logan uses both bonding and bridging capital activities. Similar to the interviewees in the WPI report, her current philanthropic efforts focus on empowering communities in need.
Through her activities with the service organization and her sorority, Logan uses bonding capital. Her knowledge and experiences guide her work to promote greater inclusion and representation.
In her work at the college, she uses bridging capital through her position by mentoring new nonprofit leaders and expanding the ways in which formal philanthropic organizations support underserved communities.
Overall, Logan continues to strive forward in improving philanthropy and opening it up to individuals from all walks of life.
“Long-term, my goals involve publishing a book on the intersections of race, gender, and nonprofit/philanthropic leadership,” she said. “I also hope that we can launch a nonprofit center for excellence at Notre Dame.
“Smaller goals include launching our one-year residential program this fall, and having great certificate training and custom programs.”
For Logan, pursuing the doctorate in philanthropic studies was one of the best decisions she made: “It confirmed my own resilience, and the fact that I’m a fierce, dogged researcher.”
And she fulfilled her answer at four years of age to her grandfather: “I earned my doctorate, and I am the biggest cheerleader for the nonprofit sector you’ll meet.”
Through this series, we hope you’ve learned more about a student and two alumni with diverse backgrounds from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy who have utilized their time, treasure, talent, and testimony to give back in multiple ways.
We’ve utilized, but barely touched on the important findings in the Women Give 2019 report. If you’re curious about philanthropy in communities of color, we encourage you to check out the report, learn more, and engage with the findings. Findings from this report can directly influence and impact donors, fundraisers, advisors, and other nonprofit leaders in how they view diversity and how they can use these findings in their daily work.
Would you like to see more posts integrating research, practice, and student/alumni experiences? Let us know. Leave a comment below, or email Abby Rolland at firstname.lastname@example.org.