The Importance of Donating to a Grassroots Organization like Chocolate Milk Café
By Takisha Miller
Chocolate Milk Café builds our legacy through establishing ourselves as a Black led organization built for and by us. From its inception, our vision has been centered around the empowerment of Black and African diasporic people within the maternal health space. To do so requires a lot of legwork and time devotion from Black people who understand the value and impact of human milk feeding within the Black community.
grassroots = we work together with the people and communities we serve
Many people throw around the term grassroots as a descriptor for their line of organizing or community centered work. For us; this term means we work directly with the people and communities we serve. We listen to the needs of those who actively benefit from our sacred spaces and many of us are in leadership positions doing the work in our respective communities. Our organization is truly FUBU (for us, by us). As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization; we require funds to keep our organization operating and in compliance with the law. Our executive staff spends a lot of time supporting our facilitators across the United States and one Canadian province while ensuring our paperwork is all in order. Having multiple chapters and managing multiple personalities can consume a lot of time on our small, volunteer executive staff.
In certain circumstances, non-profit organizations like Chocolate Milk Café can receive funding through grants and other private or public funding sources. However, those outlets often require quite a bit of management of those received funds and can require we adhere to certain stipulations. Our team has worked many hours attempting to secure funds without any guarantee; leaving us with less time to devote to work that is in service to our community. In any case, one thing that does entice funders to engage with an organization like ours is proof that those directly impacted by our work value its continuation. This can be interpreted as; the more money our community contributes, the more likely funders will want to fund us.
The function of an organization like Chocolate Milk Café is to shift the narrative and enact change. Funding from a source not connected to our community can come with expectations that may not be in alignment with how our community functions. Whereas donations directly from our community are often unrestricted with no strings attached. Of course, as a non-profit organization, our responsibility is to still be accountable to our board and community. This means we are transparent about how we manage our funds. We are free to pivot and make decisions that best suit the needs of the organization over funding criteria dictated by outside sources. It is in our best interest to spend less time writing reports and more time building community partnerships and sharing resources.
There are many benefits to donating as well. 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations are tax exempt organizations. Not only are we exempt from paying taxes to the IRS, your contributions are also tax deductible. We are able to provide all of our donors with a tax exempt receipt for your records.
Another benefit is in alignment with our overall mission. Contributing to a good cause can give you a nice boost of those “feel good” hormones such as dopamine and oxytocin, just like a good let down from lactating. In the same breath, giving can reduce stress similar to how community centered support helps to relieve stress for our lactating parents.
Additionally, giving can provide you with a way to show your children the value and importance of supporting community centered work by paying it forward. It is the greatest joy to know you have participated in something that serves a greater purpose. We are always looking to bring more joy through our work.
If you believe in the betterment of the Black community, consider donating to Chocolate Milk Café, share this feature with a friend or ten, and tell others within your network about our work.