Tammy Tumbling: Big On Support for Black Nonprofits
By Dianne Anderson
Back when Tammy Tumbling created the African American Alliance Fund on Juneteenth of 2020, she came out of pocket with the first $25,000 donation that has since set the tone for something big.
It seemed that good people wanted to support the cause, they just didn’t know how to get started.
At the time, philanthropic feelings were also fueled by frustration as the world turned its attention to the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many others. Once she opened up opportunities through the fundraising campaign, people came from far and wide of every background and racial group and economic status.
She sees it as proof positive that people will give – if given a chance.
Through both the generosity of allies and individual donors, the fund has now grown to over $450,000.
“That’s because the people believe in equity and believe in social justice and racial justice,” said Ms. Tumbling, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Orange County Community Foundation. “My hope is that they continue to stand behind this issue and not let it fade and become something that is behind them. We still have a lot of work to do.”
A big part of the outpouring for the African American Alliance Fund was because OCCF has maintained a stellar reputation in the community for over three decades, she said. It helps drive the contributions that have made the fund what it is today.
“The relationship and long term roots in the community, and people trust the Orange County Community Foundation. They know the expertise is here to do the right thing,” she said.
These days with soaring inflation and consumer prices hitting 40-year highs, Orange County is an area with a diverse population of need, she adds. First, she looks to help the unhoused, making sure they have shelter. The cost of food is now off the charts with inflation, she is also looking to address hunger.
But nonprofits and small mom and pop programs everywhere are stretched thin. They need help even as they struggle to help meet the demands of others.
Through the African American Alliance Fund, they are also funding the Orange County Community Action Partnership, which provides food and other critical services. Although African Americans represent about 1% of the county, there is still a strong need within that demographic.
In starting the Fund, she said they have examined underserved areas by way of ethnicity, unrest and social equity.
“We’re finding different programs and services to support, those who are in need of services the most, and that’s thru grant-making. We also focus on initiatives that are specifically for education programs,” said Tumbling, who holds a Master’s in public administration and Bachelor’s degree in business administration, California State University, Dominguez Hills.
Other areas of support include civic engagement, health, human services and economic business development.
One common thread facing many smaller nonprofits is the administrative side, such as how to write grants, even as they are spending a lot of time and energy providing direct services on the street.
Tumbling said they help nonprofits in several ways. The alliance was among the first efforts to convene African American leaders in Orange County and surrounding communities. They also meet once quarterly to share vital resources.
“They have a safe space to talk about immediate issues, to set up peer networking, peer coaching where they share best practices and lessons learned,” she said.
Participants provide updates on program outcomes from their grant funding. The other aspect is grantmaking, not just supporting programs and the focus areas, but they also look at how they can help to invest in the development of African American executive directors.
“When they’re writing their grant, we consider any type of training that leader needs to be successful in their jobs to help build capacity. We also provide funding for training for African American executive directors who are leading organizations that need more capacity,” she said.
Since the African American Alliance Community Leaders convened, she said they are developing skills, accessing the tools and resources to sustain their nonprofit organizations.
She said it’s been a gift that keeps on giving.
“The more we do that the better the grantmaking becomes because they are now starting to think of how to leverage their particular services with other nonprofit organizations,” she said.
Prior to joining Orange County Community Foundation, Tumbling, an accomplished executive leader, held several positions at Southern California Edison (SCE) with service in utility operations, customer service, corporate citizenship, and philanthropy. She also served the nonprofit sector at the Music Center of Los Angeles and the United Way of Greater Los Angeles.
Her next focus is creating the bridge and strengthening ties to surrounding Orange County, to tap the largest demographic. The goal is to create a peer group that crosses beyond the county borders into other geographic areas where there are executive directors that have been doing the work a long time and provide pathways to help each other.
But it is all contingent on the generosity of donors. Every little bit helps and just like they give it away, they are always excited to see the checks coming in to support the African American Alliance Fund.
For the year ahead, she hopes for more allies and sustained energy on the needs of the community as they have through the past year, along with a deeper understanding of how to help move society forward.
“It’s not a socioeconomic thing, it’s not about race, this is about humanity that we’re talking about. It’s the right thing to do,” she said.
To donate, see https://www.oc-cf.org/african-american-alliance-fund/