“I give based on what moves me.” Rollins has written checks totaling more than $25,000 for the school’s operating budget. In addition, she commissioned a friend to create three abstract paintings that were auctioned off at her 34th birthday party. As a result, she raised $3,000 for the school.
Rollins is also on the board of Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, a nonprofit public law office committed to improving legal representation for those unable to afford an attorney. Last year, she gave $5,000 and raised more than $10,000 by hosting a barbecue at her home to celebrate the organization’s 15th anniversary with the theme “Give $15 for 15.”
Rollins invited her employer to get involved as well. Last year, Future Leaders Institute and Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem each received $10,000 in program grants from the PIMCO Foundation, a nonprofit charitable organization founded in 2000. And in 2005, Rollins nominated the Harlem Children’s Zone charter school for a $10,000 employee choice award from the PIMCO Foundation, which it won.
The annual financial contributions Rollins makes outside of Harlem include $5,000 to Oakland, California-based Robert Toigo Foundation, an M.B.A. fellowship program for minorities pursing a career in finance. She also donates $1,500 to Sponsors for Educational Opportunity scholars program, which helps disadvantaged New York City high school students attend college.
Because of Rollins’ commitment to support her community and create a financial legacy for those who come after her, she exemplifies black enterprise’s Declaration of Financial Empowerment Principle No. 10.
Don’t go it alone. Consider asking your employer to assist you with your philanthropic efforts. Rollins wrote four proposals before her employer wrote the first check. Also, talk to your human resources representative to find out if your company offers matching contributions or community awards.
Network. “I’ve recruited friends to serve on the Future Leaders Insitute board with me,” says Rollins. If you’re interested in serving on a nonprofit organization’s board of directors, consult BoardNet USA (www.boardnetusa.com) to find the right match.
Understand the system. Melody’s company sponsored her to participate in Coro (www.coro.org), a civic leadership program that explains how the government, nonprofit, and for-profit sectors in New York City intersect.
Research. Do the necessary research to ensure that the organizations you give to are making good use of your money. Begin your search at Charity Navigator (www.charitynavigator.org) and Guidestar (www.guidestar.org). Guidestar allows you to view a charity’s IRS form 990, which gives a breakdown of how
donations are used. Also, sign up for a workshop at The National Center for Black Philanthropy (www.ncfbp.net).