Minority Communities Gaining Philanthropic Steam

Minorities are traditionally under-served by larger philanthropic institutions in the United States as well as underrepresented inside their walls. But this is changing. A strengthening movement to create philanthropic funds for this community–identity-based funds–now raises and distributes nearly $400 million each year, says the W.G. Kellogg Foundation in its recent Communities of Giving report.

The report focuses on identity-based philanthropy—a growing movement to democratize philanthropy from the grassroots up by activating and organizing its practice in marginalized communities, particularly communities of color. The Kellogg Foundation, and at times partner foundations, have been trying to strengthen nonprofits in these communities since 1996.

Perhaps the brightest finding is coming from “donors of color.” These are new entrants to formal philanthropy who are reinvesting in their communities in more organized fashion.

The Kellogg report notes that this is the result of other trends, including a lessening economic gap :

  • — Latino households earning more than $100,000 a year has risen more than 126 percent over the last two decades.
  • — Median income for Asian American families trumps the national average, increasing more than 10 percent between 2000 and 2009.
  • — Average Arab American income is 25 percent higher than the national average, giving this group a buying power of more than $100 billion.

In addition, giving is increasing in minority communities. Sixty-three percent of Latino households now make charitable donations. Nearly two-thirds of African American households donate to organizations and causes to the tune of $11 billion each year. African Americans are also extremely generous giving away 25 percent more of their aggregate earnings than whites.

The above chart shows why this is so important. By the year 2050, minorities will outnumber the white population. A more composite culture is our future.

America has always been dubbed a melting pot. But its giving culture hasn’t been so generous with “the stew.” It’s encouraging to see change, and as time progresses, identity-based philanthropy is making an impact. Lets hope this trend continues. It will take more investment from within communities of culture, and without. America’s general philanthropic community needs to say it.

Perhaps one of the report’s concluding quotes says it best:

“Ultimately, it means ‘figuring out how to create a true ‘culture of giving’ where everyone plays in the same space and isn’t separated,’ said Sandy Kajiyama, director of program systems at Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP).”