Foundation - Giving

Your Gift Supports Our Mission

In order to preserve the historic building and the artifacts of the First Baptist Church and to maintain its Let Freedom Ring Bell, which was restored in 2016, the foundation was established as an independent legal entity as classified under the federal tax code as a Type I supporting organization.   As a Type I supporting organization, it is affiliated with another public charity, the Historic First Baptist Church, referred to as the supported organization.  Because of this affiliation, the Type I supporting organization benefits or furthers the purposes of the supported organization. 

The foundation receives donations and the decisions to fund and support its mission are made by the Board of Directors.  The foundation can have one or more endowment funds to support specific purposes with other funds that could be used to protect and preserve the historic building and artifacts, as well as for educational and other programs.

We really appreciate our donors

The Foundation cannot fulfill its mission and vision if it does not have adequate resources and your support makes it possible for us to ensure that our mission and vision will thrive for years to come.  You will make it possible to collect, inventory, maintain and display all of the historic artifacts of the Historic First Baptist Church.  The funding will support education programs for the community on the history of the church and the many contributions of the African American community in Williamsburg, Virginia.

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Ways to Give

There are many easy ways for you to give, including one-time direct gifts, text-to-give, online recurring giving, and bequests.  Each type of gift is unique in what it does, the tax advantages it offers and the most appropriate time to use it.  If you have questions, please contact us and we can assist you with determining the type and amount of gift that you are interested in donating.

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Your gift helps us live out our vision to build upon an historic past in America's history.

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Budget Estimates and Program Goals

An estimated budget for Fiscal Year 2021 (Jan-Dec) was approved by the Board of Directors on February 20, 2021.
  • 2021 Budget
  • 2021 Program
  • 2019-2020 Annual Report

The fundraising goal for the 2021 budget year is $108.9K. The funds will be used to update and improve the public information spaces/exhibits at the Scotland Street location and to support scholarships for students interested in studying early African American history. For copies of the approved budget, please contact Dawn Lambert Morris at

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with regard to your personal situation


2021 Performance goals

Performance Goal – Fundraising
Most charitable nonprofits rely upon the generosity of donors for some or all of their funding. Consequently, fundraising is an activity of major importance to the Foundation.  In January the foundation began its fundraising for 2019.  The Marketing and Development Committee will design and implement a sustainable annual funding campaign by reaching out to our existing supporters and developing new donors to create a cycle of success.  The annual fundraising goal for 2021 is $108K.
2021 Program initiatives
Program Initiative 1- Black History Month Program(s)               
The Foundation will partner with the Historic First Baptist Church and Colonial Williamsburg Foundation to support the 2019 Let Freedom Ring Challenge and provide assistance with tours during the month of February.  In addition, we will partner with the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation to provide support for the TENACITY: Women in Jamestown and Early Virginia exhibit and the After Angelo: Celebrating Black Women in America event on February 23 by promoting, supporting, and involving African American women in community activity. This involves providing information about the organization, or sponsoring an activity or performance such as a community choral group(s), or musician(s), to perform in the lobby. The exhibit will examine stories of the first documented African woman, Angelo, to arrive in Virginia in 1619, and the Virginia Company of London’s effort that same year to encourage the growth of the Jamestown colony by recruiting single English women. There are no estimated costs for this initiative.
Program Initiative 2 - Let Freedom Ring Challenge 2019                                                           
The Freedom Bell of the city’s historic First Baptist Church, which tolled in February 2016 for the first time since segregation, made a final journey to Washington, D.C. and rang at the dedication of the National Museum of African American History and Culture attended by President Barack Obama on September 24, 2016.
The story of the bell begins long before it was cast. It starts 240 years ago, when a group of free and enslaved African Americans met secretly under thatched arbors in the woods of Williamsburg to form what is now known as the First Baptist Church. The bell itself dates to 1886, when a group of women at the church raised the funds to purchase it. But it fell silent in the 20th century and remained so for more than 50 years – from the days of segregation until 2016, when the congregation decided to invite the public to ring the bell in celebration of the church’s 240th anniversary. To make this possible, a conservation and repair team led by The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s experts analyzed, cleaned and conserved the bell – returning it to working order in time to challenge the entire nation to ring it throughout Black History Month in February. The website ( will be updated and the opportunity to ring the bell will begin on February 1. There are no estimated costs for this initiative.
Program Initiative 3 – Beyond February
What began in 1962 as Black History Week is observed today throughout the entire month of February in our country. African American history cannot be confined to a week-long focus or a month-long celebration.  The foundation has agreed to expand the observance “Beyond February” with several projects that will run through 2021. 
  • Photo History - The first of the foundation’s projects is an effort to identify photos that have been taken and not identified or categorized. The effort would involve a year-long competition designed to engage the community in participating in identifying historically significant pictures and photos related to the Historic First Baptist Church family and surrounding African American community in Williamsburg.  The photos will be provided in a central location for viewing and identification.  This project was delayed due to the COVID pandemic, but will resume in fiscal year 2021.
  • Stories on Film – “Beyond February” is an initiative to “appreciate” the histories, traditions, and contributions of African Americans in Williamsburg 365 days a year. The second project is designed to celebrate the individual and collective achievements of those who have paved the way for all of us to thrive; and spread stories of people who have historically been misunderstood, oppressed, ignored, and overlooked in our city, Virginia’s colonial capital. This project involves a partnership with one or more local colleges and/or universities to interview and record personal stories of historic significance. These interviews will be conducted on film, recorded and used as a part of the tour experience at First Baptist Church.  An example of these interviews would be a recording on film of James Patterson, who at age 11 witnessed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s visit to First Baptist Church in 1962. There is nothing that can substitute for his personal account, in his own voice, of that historic summer day in 1962. There are others in the church and the community that have similar experiences that must be captured on film to share with future generations.  This project presents history from the people perspective.  This project is being done in cooperation with William and Mary and is scheduled for completion in December 2021. 
  • Collection and Display of Artifacts - As the collectors and guardians of artifacts, our job is to care, physically and intellectually, for the museum's historic objects. Displays and exhibitions take several years to put together. It all begins with an idea. Objects are selected, researched, and conserved. Scripts are written, edited, and re-written. A design team uses those ideas to create a drawing of the proposed display or exhibition. When a final design is reached, then the exhibition can be built. Walls are put up and cases are constructed, if needed. Only then can curators begin actual object installation. The artifacts at the Historic First Baptist Church are lying on a table and are in need of proper display for the tour experience. The Foundation members were assisted by a professional in a review of the existing space, opportunity for technology updates, modifications to the interior design of exhibit space and the condition of the artifacts during 2020 and will proceed with the project during 2021.  The Foundation will continue to work with Colonial Williamsburg in exploring the Nassau Street Site and collecting artifacts that can be used for display purposes.

Report of performance


The Foundation met or exceeded all of its 2019 program goals and initiatives. We were successful in getting excellent administrative and program support at or below the budgeted amount. We provided support for the After Angelo program associated with the Tenacity: Women in Jamestown and Early Virginia exhibit of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation during Black History month in 2019 at no cost. We worked with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation to begin the updates and modifications to the Let Freedom Ring Challenge for 2020 by acquiring all of the data and content of the 2016 public service announcements. We completed four of the five shoots required for the "History Half Told is UnTold" mini-documentary. We closed the year with a positive balance, having raised more than $75,000 and set an ambitious goal of $100,000 for fundraising in 2020.


2020 started with great expectations for the Foundation and then the Pandemic hit forcing a change in our programming and fund-raising plans. We opened the year meeting with our partners on the need to examine the First Baptist Church Nassau Street site for artifacts to learn more about its history. That process began in March 2020 and by the end of the calendar year the project had received more than $3.5M in funding to support the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation's effort to complete an archaeological dig at the site. The Foundation enjoyed multi-media coverage on the project and the work that the foundation is doing to identify the early descendants and share their undocumented stories along with the progress of the dig. Phase I of the project was completed and Phase II was funded. 

A successful prayer vigil was held in September 2020 to announce the start of the excavation project. Members from the Williamsburg-York-James City County Faith Community were invited to share the moment. The work of the Foundation was reported in the Washington Post, New York Times, Daily Press and all local television news channels. 

The Foundation established an Education and Scholarship Task Force to encourage and support students to take part in the efforts to uncover artifacts and to elevate the presence of the African American experience in Williamsburg. The College of William and Mary provided interns to support the task force with quick success. The first scholarships will be awarded in 2021.

Post production continued on the LFR mini-documentary, "History Half Told is UnTold" with an estimated delivery date of February 2020 and a run-time of just under one hour. We are excited to accept delivery in early 2021 and to share the film with the community.