The Black Church as a Wealth Building Catalyst
As I was conducting research for this article I found many people that have written in the negative about the Black Church and its relationship to the poor Black community that supports it financially. The Black Church is big business, whether one likes to admit it or not, this is a simple fact. The church like any other organization must operate along sound business principles or risk becoming insolvent. LiveSteez research shows that Black churches, in aggregate, have collected more than $420 billion in tithes and donations since 1980.
That figure is staggering when analyzed alongside demographic data about concentrated poverty, low home ownership, low business ownership, access to capital for businesses, and almost zero in accumulated wealth in the Black community. Annually Black Churches rack in over $14 billion tax-free, yet this demographic data has grown worse as time moves forward into the future. I live in a Black neighborhood and I see a church on many corners (sometimes 3-4 per block), a liquor store, and businesses that aren’t owned by Blacks.
These businesses that are not Black-owned plague our communities in many ways. The majority of people that live in the Black community don’t own the place where they reside. This data in comparison to the amount of money that flows into the Black church annually has brought me to this reality as a Black crowd investment consultant that was raised in the Black church. My goal is to help the people in my community build wealth and community equity using Regulation Crowdfunding and impact investing. The Black Church must play a significant role in making this goal a reality.
The Black Church as an Economic Center
So, before this becomes another article on how corrupt the Black church has become let me state for the record I strongly believe that the Black church as an entity has a substantial role to play in community economic development through the creation of Black-owned businesses, increasing home ownership, developing inner-city commercial real estate and increasing Black wealth. Why do I believe this, first because I have met and spoken in depth with Black Pastors that care deeply for their communities and their people, but don’t have any workable solutions to drive economic development forward?
Second, there are much easier ways for people to make a living than pastoring inner-city churches that were devastated by the “Great Recession” and are struggling to keep their doors open for members. The Black church provides hope and direction for tens of millions of Black people in the 120 largest urban centers. The people are going to church and the funds are there, so let’s bring the crowd and the investment capital together through Regulation Crowdfunding platforms like Buy the Block and begin the process of #InvestingBlack.
Black Churches and Black Investment
I urge all inner-city Black churches to use this unique opportunity to redirect the fortunes of their community. Rethinking the inner-city in economic and social terms will be uncomfortable for those who have devoted years to only social causes and who view profit and business in general with suspicion. The private sector, government, inner-city residents, and community-based organizations all have vital new roles to play in revitalizing the economy of the inner-city using Regulation Crowdfunding. The African-American Church, business people, entrepreneurs, and investors must assume a leadership role and community activists, social service providers, and government bureaucrats must support them in our goal to transform these communities using market principles.
When such Black church-based developments take place in low-income neighborhoods, they will increase property values, attract new residents and become magnets for diverse businesses and better-paying jobs. Church-based business enterprises will help rebuild the community’s social infrastructure and provide such much-needed values-based services as child care, youth development, elder care and substance abuse counseling along with other economic drivers. These activities tend to lead to improved schools, better public safety, and an enhanced quality-of-life. From this type of community economic development, everyone—those living in the area and those in surrounding communities—benefits.