February’s Living Black History Hero – Colin Kaepernick
Happy Black History Month! The month of February is the month we celebrate the contributions of Black Americans to this country. Customarily, the celebrated are usually long dead, their contributions consigned to the history books. This month, I want to highlight a living black history figure and his connection to nonprofit organizations.
The Super Bowl was played on Sunday, February 4, 2018 and Colin Kaepernick has been unemployed for the entire season. Despite having better quarterback statistics than several current quarterbacks, Kaepernick was released from the San Francisco 49ers after staging a protest of police brutality by kneeling during the National Anthem that was played before NFL games in which he played. His activism spread and players across races and teams kneeled to protest police brutality and in solidarity with Kaepernick. Because of his activism, Kaepernick lost his job.
In 2016, Kaepernick began the Kaepernick Foundation’s Million Dollar Pledge. “I will donate one million dollars plus all the proceeds of my jersey sales from the 2016 season to organizations working in oppressed communities, 100k a month for 10 months,” said Colin Kaepernick. As we approach Black History Month 2018, Kaepernick is asking his famous friend to help him raise the remaining $100,000 to complete the pledge. Kaepernick is a living black history figure as he is following in the steps of many Black Americans – both celebrated and anonymous – who have taken a dire situation, like unemployment, and morphed it into an opportunity to better his community.
So, what lessons can you learn from the Million Dollar Pledge that you can apply to your work with your Board of Directors? Kaepernick had a clear strategy with his fundraising and giving. Throughout the ten months, the Kaepernick Foundation strategically gave to nonprofits and, in the final days, created an intentionally public campaign that involved his famous friends like Snoop Dogg, Kevin Durant, and Serena Williams. His campaign crossed from the NFL to entertainment, and other sports like the NBA and Tennis. In the same way, nonprofits can think about their fundraising campaigns as a slow build instead of one spectacular event. When approaching your fundraising goals, consider your timeline, how you will announce your accomplishments, and how you will use one major donor to influence giving across other industries and people. You want people talking about your organization for a full ten months and not just the week before your major fundraiser.
I’m excited for Colin Kaepernick’s success both on and off the playing field. He took his undeserved unemployment and turned it into an opportunity to uplift organizations in his community and bring awareness to issues in which he cares. As we celebrate Black History month in 2018, remember that our celebrated Black History figures don’t have to live in our history books. They are living among us and doing their part to continue to contribute to this country that we Americans cherish.
For more information on board governance and board diversity, follow along on Twitter or Instagram. Nikki McCord is the founder of McCord Consulting Group, the only choice for organizations looking to energize, innovate, and diversify their Board of Directors.