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Dr. Tyrone McKinley Freeman Wins AFP/Skystone Partners Research Prize for Scholarly Work Surrounding Philanthropy of People of Color

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(Arlington, VA) The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) has awarded the 2021 AFP/Skystone Partners Prize for Research on Fundraising and Philanthropy to Tyrone McKinley Freeman, Ph.D., for his book Madam C.J. Walker’s Gospel of Giving: Black Women’s Philanthropy During Jim Crow, published by University of Illinois Press, in 2020.

See also: An Interview With Tyrone McKinley Freeman, 2021 Skystone Partners Research Prize Winner

Tyrone McKinley Freeman Madam C.J. Walker’s Gospel of Giving presents the history behind today’s African American philanthropy—from Oprah Winfrey to millions of everyday givers. Madam C.J. Walker was a businesswoman, philanthropist and one of the first Black female millionaires in the United States. Her distinctive giving model was innovative and especially important because it challenged racist perceptions and attitudes arising from Jim Crow laws, as well as the purveying sexism at the time, while still meeting local needs. The book can help fundraisers address today’s calls for racial reckoning and economic justice in philanthropy and the nonprofit sector. More information about the book can be found at

“This award is a wonderful honor,” said Dr. Freeman. “I give my sincere thanks to AFP Global, Liz Knuppel and Skystone Partners, and the prize jury. I’m very excited and grateful for this recognition by my peers in the noble profession of fundraising. We must broaden our notion of who counts as a philanthropist and what counts as philanthropy—that is my research agenda and what this book is about. To have it affirmed in this way is priceless.”

Dr. Freeman is an assistant professor of philanthropic studies at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. He was previously a professional fundraiser for social services, community development and higher education organizations, and also served as the associate director of The Fund Raising School where he trained nonprofit leaders from around the world. Dr. Freeman is co-author of Race, Gender and Leadership in Nonprofit Organizations, which centered on the lives and experiences of female and African American leaders of foundations and nonprofits.

“I’m the son, grandson, nephew and cousin of African American Baptist preachers and First Ladies who are extremely generous in giving of themselves to help others in ways that include, but extend, far beyond money,” said Dr. Freeman. “They were the first philanthropists and fundraisers that I ever knew. However, the history of philanthropy and fundraising—the way it is written and told—doesn’t fully see them as important agents of philanthropy, even though they represent a tradition of giving that dates back to the beginning of the United States. That disconnect is the origin of this book. I wrote Madam C.J. Walker’s Gospel of Giving: Black Women’s Philanthropy during Jim Crow in part to help fundraisers see these traditions of generosity in today’s diverse givers and to encourage the field to create equal opportunities for their philanthropic engagement in the lives and missions of our institutions.”

The prize jury that reviewed each nomination commented that “Dr. Freeman’s unique contribution is how he has combined the perspectives and methodologies from the field of Africana Studies and the discipline of History to explore the histories of Black women, Black business, and Black social welfare, to complicate our understanding of American philanthropic agents. Madam C. J. Walker’s Gospel of Giving challenges us to understand and explore who is a philanthropist by focusing on a Black woman’s giving—and her agency in doing so—not only in the early-Twentieth Century, but also within the context of Jim Crow and the surrounding environment.”

The jury also stated that “Dr. Freeman builds a compelling argument that Walker’s generosity should not just be limited to only her monetary giving, and that philanthropy from the Black communities should not be viewed solely in comparison to giving by White communities.”

Each year, the AFP Research Council awards the Skystone Partners Prize for Research to the author or authors of a book that contributes substantially to the knowledge and understanding of fundraising or philanthropic behavior. The award is made possible by an endowment established by Skystone Partners, an international fundraising consulting firm, through the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy to encourage advanced research that extends the knowledge of fundraising and philanthropy.

“Each one of us has the opportunity to be a philanthropist every day,” said Elizabeth Kohler Knuppel, president and CEO of Skystone Partners, which sponsors the award. “When we give of ourselves to others, by whatever means, we are elevating the quality of life on the planet.  Madam C.J. Walker embodied generosity throughout her entire life; and Dr. Freeman’s work gives us an opportunity to reflect on what philanthropy is and what it means to be a philanthropist.  Tyrone’s research is timely; it invites the reader to broaden their philanthropic vision, understand and appreciate the history and depth of Black philanthropy in America, and will be an enduring addition to the field.  Skystone Partners is proud to have the opportunity to support his work.”

The AFP Foundation for Philanthropy champions philanthropy and volunteerism by strengthening the nonprofit sector’s current and future leaders, welcoming diverse new voices into the charitable world, and rigorously upholding the highest standards of ethics. The foundation currently focuses on developing fundraising leadership programs, supporting research on critical issues in the profession, building a stronger sector through a more diverse workforce, and renewing public trust in charitable organizations. More information about the foundation can be found at


Skystone Partners and its diverse team of fundraising consultants have counseled nonprofits and managed campaigns with goals from $1 million to over $500 million. Headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, the firm and its U.S.-based professional staff members are currently serving institutions throughout North America and the world.  Together with our clients, we design elegant solutions that elevate an organization’s skills and transform their fundraising results sustainably and over time. For more information, go to


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