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Nearly 20 years ago, a group of frat brothers and graduates of Atlanta’s Morehouse College pooled their money-starting with monthly contributions of $25-to create Omega Diversified Investment Consortium (basing the name of their organization on Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc.). In addition to investing in stocks and mutual funds, the group of 35 members bought one talk radio and two urban radio stations, the footprints of which cover Daytona Beach and Tampa, Florida, and Greenville, South Carolina. The investment club’s portfolio, including investment market and venture capital projects, has a net worth valued at more than $500,000.
Omega Diversified does a lot of community outreach. For instance, there was a church that wanted to deliver meals to college students, but couldn’t afford to purchase vans and other equipment. Unable to secure a traditional bank loan, the church secured a short-term loan from Omega Diversified.
“As a group we wanted to do something different,” says Charles Hicks, 43, chairman of Omega’s board of directors and an engineering planning specialist with Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn, Michigan. “We approached our club like a business; we wanted to develop some products that could help empower our communities.”
Looking to build wealth within the African American community, the “Ques,” as they are known, established the Omega Diversified Investment Foundation. The nonprofit organization provides scholarships to students majoring in broadcasting at historically black
colleges and universities (HBCUs).
Principle No. 7 of the Declaration of Financial Empowerment (DOFE) calls upon you to use a portion of your personal wealth to strengthen your community, and setting up a nonprofit or philanthropic foundation obviously qualifies. You also can make donations to a church, civic group or philanthropic organization.
Make charitable contributions. There are over 600,000 nonprofit organizations, including charities. For information on their finances and activities, consult such sources as the American Association of Fund-Raising Counsel (www.aafrc.org) and the Nonprofit Almanac (available in most libraries).
“Give money to organizations that move you or that you can relate to in some way,” says Simone Thompson, a financial advisor with Edward Jones Investments in Brooklyn, New York, who gives $1,000 annually to the Diabetes Foundation (her father, uncle and grandmother have diabetes). “Don’t give to organizations that you’ve never heard of,” she adds, “and always write a check to that charity” so that you have a receipt for your contribution. Find out if your company matches charitable donations made by its employees.
Give to your church. Many communities embrace tithing-where a congregation member contributes 10% of his or her income to the church. Even if you are not in a position to provide that level of funding, you can make weekly donations to your church, including funds for missionary work. Moreover, you can get more involved in church activities, from teaching Sunday School to initiating field trips.
Give in-kind gifts. Money is one form of contribution. You can also give in-kind gifts, such as clothing, furniture or office equipment. You can donate
collectibles, securities, frequent-flier miles and other items, which can prove valuable and give you a