Archive for May 2013

Why Open Your Door? Diversity in Fund Development

Our diversity theme continues on May 23 with emphasis in ‘Opening your Door to Diversity’ on under-represented groups of long standing in our community. (The case of recent immigrant communities was addressed in our May 2 webinar on ‘Reaching Diverse Communities’ – if you missed it there is a recording available)

Does your organization represent your community?

How can you tell if you are not sufficiently representative?

A simple calculation is to look at the percentage of a given cultural, racial, or religious group in your area and the numbers from that community being served. Are those numbers a close match with those on your board or volunteering? Is the percentage of your donors consistent with  all of the above?

If the answer is no, then there may be work to be done.

I asked a senior administrator of a southern state college about the percentage of African Americans living in the area and if that number was also reflected in the student body of his college. He reported about the same percentage of African Americans living in the catchment area also attended the college. However, their donor pool reflected at best 1/10th of that number. He was unaware that African Americans give a higher proportion of their income to charity than any other ethnic group, AND they are keenly interested in supporting education.

See African American Giving for a full recorded presentation on this topic.

I personally like and use the following definition of diversity/inclusion:

‘The practice of diversity allows us as professionals to reach out beyond our comfort zone and engage those in our communities we may not be reaching due to cultural differences, language barriers etc.The charities we work for benefit hugely from a stronger base of support and the opportunity to realize their mission beyond our first level of connections.’

The reality is that it is always easier to stay with the familiar and avoid risk.

There are consequences for our reticence, however. As fundraisers, we tend to look at the bottom line as our area of responsibility.

When we systematically, if unintentionally,  exclude peoples in our community, we lose them as workers, donors and advocates to our cause. We are the poorer for this.

Join us May 23rd for Opening Your Door – Inspiring Support from Diverse Communities for our panel of experts on African American, Hispanic and Indigenous Philanthropy.

Diversity to Inclusion: Two ways to open your doors and reach new communities

When Columbus ‘discovered’ America, he added hugely to Europe’s understand of the scope and size of the world and the variety of people in it. He did not invent America but he did uncover it for his time and his people.

As fund development professionals, we may well occupy a world we know and are comfortable in and hear tell of other ‘worlds’ without being sure what lies there and if we should go.

We often say in North America that we are all immigrants. Indigenous Peoples may disagree, however.

We do know that our cities and towns are constantly renewing with new immigrant groups that change the mix of our communities by race, religion and culture.

I think most of know that we should widen our tent and include new populations. We ask what is involved. Will I fail? And, of course, is it worth the risk?

Lots, yes and yes!

We also know if we stop and think about it that not all or our neighbours are equally involved as volunteers, advocates and donors and that those not in the room are not always new immigrants. They may well be from populations that have been here all along. First Nations are an obvious example.

Historic populations, be they the old Hispanic settlements in New Mexico, French Canadians, African Americans and others that may have settles many years ago yet remain distinct may not be fairly represented in our donor lists taking into account their numbers.

This is the answer to why we offer not one but two sessions on diversity this month. Reaching Diverse Communities offers case studies and successes reaching new populations such as Muslim Canadians, Sikh and Tamil. None of the above has been truly brought in to our traditions of philanthropy. What is their tradition of giving? Tune in May 2 to learn with Sharon Lee CFRE and Parag Tandon.

On May 23, Opening Your Door to Diversity includes three presenters who can enlighten us on African American Giving, Indigenous Culture of Philanthropy and involving Hispanic populations in our causes. In this instance, the focus is on education. That are many transferable lessons here whether you work with their communities or not.

This month is diversity month at I hope to see you online for both of these sessions.