Emergent Philanthropists: America’s Evolving Affluent Ethnic Donor Groups | npENGAGE

Emergent Philanthropists: America’s Evolving Affluent Ethnic Donor Groups

By on Aug 13, 2010


Historic philanthropy patterns of America’s affluent donors are giving way to a more complex and disparate population that represents our country’s patchwork communities. The systematic and predictable giving methods by the rich no longer dominate our donor bases. Diverse communities are emerging with new giving patterns and objectives.

The face of America’s philanthropist is changing. Affluent African-Americans, Asian-Americans and those of Hispanic heritage are joining the donor ranks of many organizations. Their concepts of philanthropy encompass giving from all available resources including time, expertise, money and combined efforts. They share the sense of obligation to help others, and much of their giving is linked to family and kinship, therefore more personal and informal. Religion plays a large role in these communities’ traditions of giving as well.  Nonprofit organizations will need to embrace fresh communication styles and adopt flexible stewardship, solicitation and recognition efforts to garner more involvement and support from these emergent philanthropists.

Nonprofit leaders who want to engage a fuller representation of their communities must begin to recognize and invite involvement from these emerging philanthropic ethnic groups. It’s well-known that people respond to people who are similar in look, economic status and values to themselves. Take time to assess the makeup of your leadership and staff; determine if your donor base would benefit from greater involvement with these generous donors; review the visual components of your organizational communications to find out if they represent your community’s changing demographics; and above all, be flexible and welcoming in your fundraising efforts.

Consider communications that are bilingual when appropriate. Examples of donors who have made a difference through their modest gifts may prompt others to consider engagement. Solicitations and payment choices that allow cumulative giving options mimic savings patterns employed by many ethnic donors. Use language that provides the same sense of resource accumulation at your organization. Allow donors flexibility in the timing and level of their gifts. The concept of regular “annual gifts” has not yet taken root with these donors. Large gift solicitation efforts may need to take on a sense of group giving versus individual giving; and, gifts of impact can be accomplished if structured over multiple years.

If you have not already done so, take time to assess the impact these up-and-coming donor groups could have on your mission funding.   Seek their involvement, their direction and their philanthropic intentions as you would with any personal solicitation plan.  Become the changing force behind your organization’s open invitation to a new group of affluent emerging philanthropists.

Katherine has over 30 years of experience in the fundraising industry as a consultant, development officer and advancement team manager. As a member of Blackbaud’s analytics consulting team for over a decade, she facilitates strategic, client-facing content for Blackbaud’s custom modeling, wealth screening, and prospect research solutions to enhance clients’ development efforts with data-driven strategies.  Before assuming this role, she served as the national director of gift planning at
the National Multiple Sclerosis Society home office. Katherine has raised over $200 million during her career. She is a past president of the Colorado Planned Giving Roundtable, a former lawyer and also served as an affiliation faculty member at Regis University where she taught development-related courses at the master’s level for more than 10 years. She is a frequent speaker at BBCON, NACGP, Apra, AFP and other industry conferences.

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