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September 27, 2021
Donors of Colors Are Leading Shift in Giving Patterns

September 4, 2021 — Philanthropic giving to racial and social justice causes increased across all demographic groups last year, with the growing impact of crowdfunding and mutual aid demonstrating how donors of color are leading shifts in individual giving patterns, new research has found.

The study also found that while donors of color led this growth, they are also beginning to drive a shift in the sources of influence that have historically shaped the charitable community’s approach to racial and social justice giving.

The study, completed by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, with findings summarized in Everyday Donors of Color: Diverse Philanthropy During Times of Change, incorporates data from a national survey of 1,535 households, insights from focus groups with diverse donors, and an analysis of case studies on the impact of mutual aid.

“Donors of color are changing the fabric of philanthropy in this country as a whole by bringing greater visibility and awareness to giving practices and approaches that have been particularly relevant amidst COVID and the movement for racial justice,” said Una O. Osili, associate dean for research and international programs at the school.

“We’re witnessing a re-imagining of how the philanthropic sphere can approach issues of social and racial justice. Donors of color are leading initiatives to drive change and tackle inequities from the past year, and those efforts are also being more frequently recognized and supported by institutional funders outside of communities of color.”

According to the study:

  • Donors of color are more likely to engage in informal giving, volunteering or giving through crowdfunding sites: 34% of donors of color said they give through crowdfunding sites in a typical year.

  • Beyond gifts of money, donors of color are engaged in other forms of generosity, with 53% volunteering, 34% donating blood and 70% donating goods in a typical year.

  • 31% of Asian households, 19% of Black households, and 14% of Hispanic households gave to racial and social justice causes in 2020, while 13% of white non-Hispanic households gave to these causes.

  • Donors to racial and social justice causes were more likely to be younger, not married and to less frequently attend religious services compared to donors that make charitable gifts to other causes.

  • Compared to non-donors, donors to racial and social justice also showed a higher level of general trust and willingness to support the common good (for example, working for the well-being of society, making an effort on behalf of others, and helping people in need).

While evidence shows that donors across all racial and ethnic groups help and give to those they know, the report found that Black Americans are more likely to help and give money to strangers in need.

More recently, increased levels of allyship among different communities of color have driven increased impact to underserved communities, the report noted. For example, the Asian American Advocacy Fund has helped fund bail funds and demonstrated support for protests from Black communities regarding criminal justice reform.

Researchers found that grassroots leaders within communities of color are increasingly shaping how philanthropy is organized to maximize the impact on social and racial justice. This shift highlights the agenda-setting power of these grassroots leaders and signals a potential restructuring of the way the nonprofit sector supports historically marginalized communities, according to the report.

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