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Being the Magic for Brooklyn in 2024

Dr. Jocelynne Rainey


A group of people sitting on a bench in a park.

When I think about the past year at Brooklyn Org, I couldn’t be prouder of what we accomplished: Thanks to the generosity of fellow Brooklynites, we moved a record $21 million to nonprofits, pushing us past $113 million in lifetime grantmaking.

But there’s more: Through our strategic support for Brooklyn nonprofits, we backed 120 local organizations – 78% of whom are led by people of color – that are addressing the full range of issues shaping the lives of our neighbors.

As a testament to how Brooklyn cares for Brooklyn, we saw an amazing 55% increase in grants coming out of our Donors Advised Funds, more than 4,000 donors participated in our Brooklyn Gives on GivingTuesday campaign, and 1,100+ Brooklynites came out to our fundraisers and public events last year.

While our movement is growing in so many exciting ways, these numbers alone don’t tell the full story.

Our borough has been met with remarkable challenges: asylum seekers are struggling to find housing and jobs amidst increased costs of living; conflicts abroad continue to weigh on Brooklynites’ hearts and our minds heavily; we are grappling with a mental health crisis; our children are still far behind grade-level in reading; and there continues to be huge disparities in our justice system.

$21M Total Grantmaking in 2023

However, with your help, BKO continues to strive to meet this moment by listening to and supporting our communities. Backed by a new strategic plan, we boldly stepped into our evolution as Brooklyn Org. This next chapter is pushing us to create a different model for local philanthropy – one that champions transformation over transaction, rallying our collective power and resources to back Brooklyn-born solutions and end injustice across our communities.

Part of our mission as Brooklyn Org is to make it easy for every single Brooklynite to join our movement. We work together to make sure our neighbors thrive–from volunteering your time at community events to fundraising for your favorite nonprofit to joining our new BKO Membership program that supports our collective investment in local communities.

By reimaging philanthropy that is accessible, inclusive, and inviting, our goal is to connect everyone who loves Brooklyn to the nonprofits determined to make Brooklyn even better.

This past GivingTuesday, Brooklyn Org did just that: One donor shared with me that she’s previously felt alienated by the campaign because of how competitive it can get and how often big nonprofits dominate the arena. This year, because she used our Brooklyn Gives platform, she was able to effectively find and support organizations doing the work that means the most to her, right here in our borough.

120 Brooklyn nonprofits received BKO funding in 2023

But we don’t need a designated day to grow our giving network – when there’s a call, we do our best to answer. That’s why when Reverend Lawrence Aker of Bedford-Stuyvesant’s Cornerstone Baptist Church reached out to me about a broken elevator that was keeping older congregants from attending programming in the church’s basement, I knew that Brooklyn Org could be part of the solution.

In addition to being a senior daycare center, the church’s multipurpose basement is also a summer cooling station and a place to hold computer classes, chair yoga sessions, and meetings for the children’s ministry. Needless to say, this space is part of what makes Cornerstone Baptist Church integral to the Bed-Stuy community – and they need a working elevator to keep older adults engaged.

After consulting with our Donor Advised Fund team, we were able to connect Rev. Aker with a DAF holder who gave the church a $40,000 grant to repair and maintain the elevator. “One of the greatest benefits [of these funds] will be for our seniors,” Rev. Aker emphasized. “It’s very difficult for them to get up and down the stairs [and] that elevator lift takes the complications away.”

This partnership has been a blessing to our community. At Cornerstone, we look forward to collaborating with Brooklyn Org [so] that we can better Bed-Stuy and beyond, especially for our youth and seniors. Rev. Lawrence Aker, Cornerstone Baptist Church

For places like Cornerstone Baptist Church, we are the matchmaker, but we’re also the magic. More than the sum of individual partners, Brooklyn Org is becoming a critical catalyst for change across Brooklyn. “This partnership has been a blessing to our community,” Rev. Aker said. “At Cornerstone, we look forward to collaborating with Brooklyn Org [so] that we can better Bed-Stuy and beyond, especially for our youth and seniors.”

In 2024, our sights are set on even loftier goals: As we lower barriers for nonprofits seeking funding from Brooklyn Org through our new rolling RFP model, we’re excited to welcome even more changemakers into the fold through a new capacity building program providing free support for all local organizations. We’re also looking forward to bringing donors and DAF holders even closer to that work, so that they can see the concrete change their generosity supports.

More than by our growth, our success is measured by these meaningful moments. Every time we’re able to spark true connection between our neighbors, I’m reminded of why we do this work. In the words of Coretta Scott King, “The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” Brooklyn Org is proud to bring our community members together for a fair and just Brooklyn.

Don’t miss out on seeing how special this work is first-hand: Join us for the most inspiring morning in Brooklyn at our 2024 Brooklyn Org Spark Breakfast on March 5th at the Brooklyn Museum. We are celebrating the newest winners of our annual $100,000 prize for exceptional nonprofits. Get your tickets today before they sell-out!


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