AAPIP Voices

The Importance of Presence in Philanthropy


by Athan Lindsay

I recently had the opportunity to attend the Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy National Network Convening and Annual Meeting in New York City. This was my second opportunity to attend one of AAPIP’s national meetings. I always look forward to having an opportunity to be among the AAPIP family.  I was especially honored and humbled to be invited as a guest panelist with Pat Eng (New York Women’s Foundation), Jason Franklin (Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy), and Paul Ocampo (Lacuna Giving Circle).  AAPIP staff has always made me feel a part of the AAPIP family. All the love and gratitude given to me by the AAPIP network has certainly cemented me as an AAPIP ally.

My time with the AAPIP network is always special not just because it helps me expand my community of among those with whom I share an affinity and common belief in the practice of collective giving. We also share in common the value of organizing the philanthropic power within communities of color as an essential practice and strategy to foster greater civic participation. The moments I have been witness to how the AAPIP network continues to keep at the forefront the intersection of philanthropy and social justice encourages me in my own work. I have been especially impressed by the level of commitment and discipline that AAPIP has devoted to evaluating and documenting the impact of the AAPIP network of giving circles. There are 51 AAPIP affiliated circles made up of over 2,500 people who have given $2.7 million to over 500 causes in 15 states to mobilize resources for AAPI communities. Yes, AAPIP is making an impact that is important and worth noting within the field of philanthropy. It deserves recognition and continued support by those interested in building a more inclusive philanthropic landscape that reflects a truer picture of what philanthropy embodies in an ever-growing diverse America. AAPIP’s research and documentation represents more than just a solid methodology to measure the impact of “new pockets of philanthropic capital”, it demonstrates that AAPI communities have a philanthropic PRESENCE!

This presence is a good thing for all of us who are working towards a vision of a more equitable society.  An evolving and increasingly visible presence of AAPI philanthropy and investment in AAPI communities expands the narrative of the American philanthropic experience. AAPIP’s work helps to keep folks like myself honest and accountable to elevate our conversations beyond the conventional frameworks and exclusive conversations on race between “white folks and black folks.” AAPIP challenges me to expand my perspective.

Suk Rhee (AAPIP Board Member), in her inspiring homage to Muhammad Ali, offered the greatest lessons from the life of Muhammad Ali on how we can build philanthropy. We must defy convention. Risk something meaningful. We are more than the roles that society attempts to confine us to.

My beloved friends at AAPIP, your PRESENCE is critical to the field of philanthropy and is added value to the philanthropic dollars you are organizing within AAPI communities. Let’s keep our hands up and our chin down as we continue to build philanthropy that builds more just and equitable society! I am because you (AAPIP) are!

Athan Lindsay is a Development Officer with the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro based in Greensboro, NC. He has been a leading advocate and voice for utilizing collective giving models to organize time, talent, and treasure within communities of color for strategic philanthropic investments that build just and caring communities. He was a founding architect of the Community Investment Network and original member of the Next Generation of African American Philanthropists (NGAAP).