Blackbaud donates $1 million to help build African American museum

DANIEL ISLAND, S.C. (WCIV) — Blackbaud announced on Wednesday a $1 million gift to the International African American Museum, a $75 million project spearheaded by former mayor Joe Riley.

Nearly 40 percent of African-Americans have an ancestor who arrived in America through Charleston’s Gadsden’s Wharf during the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and it is estimated that 80 percent of African-Americans have ancestral roots through the port of Charleston.

Under the leadership of President and CEO Michael B. Moore, great-great grandson of Robert Smalls, IAAM will be a new museum of African-American history that aims to re-center South Carolina’s place in global history and honor the largely overlooked history of the African-American community.

The museum will connect visitors to their ancestors, demonstrating how enslaved Africans and free blacks shaped economic, political, and cultural development in the nation and beyond.

“Blackbaud’s significant gift helps us move closer to our fundraising goal and is a testament to the support the International African American Museum project is receiving by South Carolina’s most influential, purpose-focused companies, said Michael B. Moore, President and CEO of IAAM.

Blackbaud’s investment will support the Digital Media Lab which will allow visitors to be part of a shared experience; inside the museum or from anywhere in the world on their computers or mobile devices. Visitors will be able to trace their family origins, research their ancestry and record their own stories.

“This connectivity showcases how technology can help break down barriers, and proves there are no limits to the experience the IAAM can offer,” said Mike Gianoni, President and CEO of Blackbaud.

“At Blackbaud, we believe all people deserve the opportunity to know their heritage, and to understand the role their families have played in shaping history and culture. This museum is making that possible for the African-American community, and we’re proud to support it.”

Former Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley, who pioneered the IAAM project and leads the fundraising campaign, commented on the leadership role Blackbaud is playing in honoring the African-American community.

“Charleston and this museum reflect the struggle that still exists to rightfully mark, educate and celebrate African-American history. With IAAM, we have the opportunity to tell an American story and the pivotal role that Charleston plays in that story. As business leaders like Blackbaud continue rise to support the museum, we move steps closer to finally being able to tell our complete story, and to take new steps toward cultural appreciation and unity,” he said/

The IAAM will be located at Gadsden’s Wharf in Charleston. Currently at 67 percent of the $75 million goal, construction for the museum will begin as soon as all funding is secured.

To learn more about the IAAM or to donate, visit