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Why Charities Need to Pay More Attention to Minority Donors

March 23, 2011

This is the title of a fascinating article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy this week (H/T Asian American Giving).  The article reports on the recent Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) annual conference and a session about the changing demographics of the US (and Canada, I would add!).  As we’ve discussed here before, there is very little research and data about giving by communities of color, and so it sounds like the AFP brought up a very important subject!

I thought the bullet points about some of the cultural differences regarding philanthropy and asking for donations was most interesting.  For example:

• Blacks tend to give to family and friends in times of crisis, as well as to their churches, education and scholarships, civil-rights causes and health-related issues, such as sickle-cell anemia, cancer, and HIV/AIDS. They give in small amounts over time, and they do not necessarily report those gifts as tax write-offs…

• Talk of money and wealth may be taboo in some Asian cultures. In Japan, for example, family wealth is kept hushed. There may be a gender gap in the giving process, too; some Asian male donors may feel uncomfortable talking about philanthropy with a woman… Asians also value prestige and give money to institutions with good reputations. Education and services for elderly people are important causes for Asian donors.

• Gifts to families outside the United States, to the Catholic Church, and to human-rights causes, with ties to immigration issues, typify Latino philanthropy. Latino donors also seek hands-on solicitations and may want to be told why they should give money and be guided through the giving process. They also look for tangible results from their giving.

• Native American philanthropy is a way of life rather than an obligation or a responsibility…

I felt that some of the remarks bordered on stereotype since they were not grounded in statistics or data, but they are probably more useful than the complete lack of information facing us right now.

What would you say is most important about fundraising among South Asians in the diaspora?  I would think that – like other Asians – we place a premium on relationships and being asked by people we trust.  My experience with SAPP for the past few years also indicates that South Asians generally expect to be recognized personally and publicly for their giving – almost as a marker of integration and pride for the community.  What do you all think?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 27, 2011 1:53 pm

    Hi

    I am from a South Asian background, born in the UK. From my experience, the older generation in my family think it is their obligation to give charity donations as often as they can and do so for religious reasons too. Zakat is one of the 5 pillars of Islam making it a duty to give a % of the monetary value of the gold you own to charity. My family tend to give to family but they also give money to ‘durgas’ or religious places around the world.

    My generation feel less compelled to give money to family and more to causes we connect with. For several years in High School I volunteered for Amnesty International and at uni I volunteered for Save The Children. I don’t connect with my family in the Sub-Continent at all.

    Bubbly

  2. asridhar permalink*
    March 28, 2011 1:01 am

    Thanks for the insights – you’re right that religious giving is key to our community’s giving for the older generation and that things are probably changing for the newer generations. Thanks for reading – and we look forward to hearing more from you!

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