America's Fundraising Playbook? [Hint: You're probably not reaching today's donors] | npENGAGE

America’s Fundraising Playbook? [Hint: You’re probably not reaching today’s donors]

By on Feb 26, 2015


Diversity in Giving

“America is in the midst of a dramatic cultural shift.” This is the opening message from the groundbreaking study out today titled, “Diversity in Giving: The Changing Landscape of American Philanthropy.” In this new study, researchers asked African-American, Asian, and Hispanic donors about their giving priorities, values, and habits.

What the study discovered is profound.

It revealed that the nonprofit playbook is not only due for an overhaul but probably ALREADY out of date!

As the study highlights, the implications of this are huge. It means that not only do we need to better tailor our messages to resonate with tomorrow’s untapped donors, but also that the sector needs to rethink who it is reaching out to altogether. In the past, the supporter pool might have better reflected the population, so of course we targeted and solicited those donors. They became staples on our lists and those donors eventually became our major givers. If you’re fishing from the same pond, you will catch the same fish! But now, as the study found, the American population has evolved and the pool of donors being reached hasn’t kept pace. As fundraisers, it’s our responsibility to widen that pool to include the full spectrum of potential supporters.

Diversity in Giving

The good news is that we, as a nation of givers, have more similarities than differences. Donors agree on the big things:

  • They give because they believe the need for support is universal.
  • Religion and faith are major drivers and indicators of giving.
  • While wealthier donors give more in absolute terms, middle and lower income donors donate a higher percentage of their income.

The message is clear. The capacity to meet future social needs hinges on our ability to reach and embrace a donor pool that reflects society—in all its diverse and changing complexity.

For nonprofit organizations courageous enough to undertake this difficult journey, Diversity in Giving is essential reading for getting started. Emmett D. Carson, PhD, CEO and president of Silicon Valley Community Foundation


Ashley Thompson is the managing director for the Blackbaud Institute, where she is responsible for driving extensive research and thought leadership. Through this role, she builds thoughtful strategies and solutions for the social good sector using the most comprehensive data set in the social good community. Ashley is active in the Austin community and participates in numerous groups as a volunteer, board member, and collaborative partner. She is a regular contributor to sgENGAGE, serves on the Giving USA Editorial Review Board, and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board. Visit to learn more or follow her on Twitter at @AshlyThmpsn.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *