How Racism Still Affects Color Millionaire Donors: Report

When philanthropist Mona Singha attended the first meeting of the museum’s advisory board, she soon realized that she was the youngest in the room and the only colored person there. Instead of being welcomed as her new colleague, a member of her advisory board asked her if she would raise money for her museum. Such experiences often make people of color feel unwelcome to philanthropy.

Shinha says the emotional sacrifice of working in an almost white environment discourages many wealthy-colored people from looking for a philanthropic leadership role. “With so many people, years of discrimination have hurt our self-esteem, so I think it’s very difficult to claim the place,” she says.

A new qualitative study of 113 million color millionaires found that almost everyone experienced racial or ethnic prejudice. “It’s very obvious, but it’s also very profound,” said Hali Lee, co-author of the report, founding partner of Radiant Strategies and co-founder of the Donors of Color Network. She says the findings show how racism affected the lives of color millionaires.

The study was published Wednesday by the Donors of Color Network, a membership organization for wealthy philanthropists with a background left out of society, and two consulting firms, Radiant Strategies and Vaid Group. From 2016 to 2018, Lee and her research team visited 10 cities in the United States and had a 90-minute conversation with a color donor who had over $ 1 million in cash. The author states that the result is a “qualitative snapshot” rather than a representative sample.

“The color people who are the donors bring different priorities to the table than their life experiences,” said Urvashi Vaid, co-founder of the Color Network donor and co-author of the report, President of the Vaid Group. Says. She says she will change both the agenda of philanthropy and what is possible for the nonprofits they support.

Vaid points out the donor’s contribution to the causes of social and racial justice from 2015 to 2017 when researchers asked donors about donations. Donors ranked both causes in the top five philanthropic priorities. Education was the most popular cause and was prioritized over 65%. More than 44% say social justice is the number one cause, followed by women and gender rights at nearly 40% and racial justice at over 36%.

“The recent growth in the provision of racial justice was preset in our data,” says Vaid. “This is a community that has made a huge contribution.”

According to co-authors, interviews with high net worth individuals in the new report are straight from the donor’s personal experience (completion of higher education, racist experience, efforts to address economic inequality) to philanthropic priorities. Is drawn. ..

There are significant similarities between the donors interviewed for the study. Many said they raised them to value their parents giving and helping others, and most said they managed their philanthropic activities without the help of a professional philanthropist. .. In addition, the interview emphasized how connected the wealthy donors of color are, especially for fraternity, sorority, or membership in community organizations, Lee says.

Another thing that the interviewed donors have in common is that more than 65% were homebrew millionaires. Nearly 78% of interviewed donors helped relatives and friends cover their living and education costs, provide urgent financial support, wedding payments, etc. in the year prior to the interview. He said he helped with the cost.

“That’s always my priority,” says Eric Fuller, an aerospace engineer and philanthropist in Oakland, California. His family knows that he is a donor to organizations working on education, housing and criminal justice reform, especially to his hometown of the Bay Area. .. But it is also important for him that they know that they can rely on him for financial support.

Nonprofits need to understand the obligations of self-made color millionaires, in addition to charitable purposes, said Ashindi Maxton, co-founder and co-author of the report for the Donors of Color Network.

“If you’re a Sierra Club, you’re not actually competing with the National Wildlife Sanctuary, but with someone’s aunt or cousin,” says Maxton. Donors may want to support a new non-profit program, but they may need to help a friend pay for water or send his nephew to college.

Fundraising can have a tunnel vision in that it identifies new donors and looks for new supporters who are similar to their current supporters. But when they don’t find a color provider, they leave a lot of money and connections on the table, Fuller says.

Donors interviewed for the investigation donated a median annual amount of $ 87,500 to charities, political campaigns, places of worship, family and friends. The largest share of donors in the report (about 30%) states that they donated less than $ 50,000 a year to their beneficiaries. More than 20% say they donate more than $ 300,000 a year, of which 55% estimate their annual donation to be $ 1 million.

One way for nonprofits to build relationships with these donors is to hire colored fundraiser, Maxton says. If this is not the case, fundraising is likely to connect primarily with white donors.

It’s natural for people to connect with people like them most easily, says Maxton.

“You’re going to connect with people like who your team members are,” she says. “If you do not change the organization within your organization, it will be difficult to establish those connections if you do not have such experience within your organization.”

It’s also important for nonprofits to check their prejudices, Lee says. Over and over again, donors were unaware of fundraising activities that they thought their homes weren’t big enough to host an event, or other wealthy people who could support their goals. I talked to her.

Philanthropist Shinha said: “As color providers, we often face the same barriers as many grant recipients.”


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