Tested strategies for recruiting diverse donors – Knight Foundation

Tested strategies for recruiting diverse donors

Forget the magic wand: Reaching out to diverse donors takes less pixie dust and more customized outreach and relationship building, philanthropy experts said last week during a Knight Foundation webinar on how to increase minority participation in Giving Day campaigns.

While many minority communities have traditions of institutional giving, they aren’t particularly familiar with the community foundations that run Giving Days. And even though these online fundraising campaigns have raised tens of millions for local nonprofits, they may not be attracting a diverse or representative set of participants, early research shows.

Three speakers, Noelle Ito of Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy, Alexandra Aquino-Fike of Hispanics in Philanthropy and Priscilla Enriquez of the Sacramento Region Community Foundation, all shared their experiences in cultivating donors. You can watch the video above to learn more, or read below for top insights.

The webinar was the fourth in a Knight Foundation series on advanced topics for Giving Days, part of Knight’s efforts to help community foundations democratize philanthropy and better engage donors online. You can access the entire series, for free, at givingdayplaybook.org/webinar.

Here’s what the speakers shared:

Start by asking questions: Ito asked Giving Day organizers to take a look at their existing campaigns before embarking on specializing outreach efforts. Consider these three questions first, she said, and the answers can help guide your planning:

  1. Are you actively outreaching to organizations that serve communities of color to participate in Giving Days?
  2. Are there organizations and causes affiliated with your Giving Day that would inspire [diverse] donors to give?
  3. Have you thought about ways to cultivate these donors after the Giving Day to involve them in other ways?

Customize your approach: In the Asian American/Pacific Islander community, Ito’s group has found that Giving Circles – where donors pool their donations and collectively decide where funds go – are popular. “It’s a vehicle that speaks to our community,” Ito said. These circles help the donors become more aware of their own community issues, and learn how to be philanthropists. Their Giving Circles, for example, have directed funds to pay for the funerals of Hmong victims of domestic violence, and to help refugees learn farming techniques in the U.S. The Sacramento Region Community Foundation, which serves the largest Pacific Islander population in California, meanwhile, launched its Giving Circle to coincide with its Giving Day last spring, Enriquez said.

Extend an invitation and make it culturally relevant: “Once you let people know you want to reach out to their community, they get excited,” Enriquez said. Recruiting ambassadors in a community is always an effective way to do outreach, whether they are civic leaders, members of student and professional organizations, or sororities and fraternities. Once they are on board, create marketing materials that are multilingual and relevant to the community – such as this Big Day of Giving video in Hmong, or memes that feature people from the target community.

In addition, Hispanics in Philanthropy seeks partnerships with brands that Latinos trust, including Univision, Salud Today and Voto Latino. “It brings us new participants and a greater number of donors,” Aquino-Fike said.

Look for help from affinity groups: Both Ito and Aquino-Fike suggested contacting their organizations for help and insights before embarking on campaigns.

“Reach out to us to perhaps partner with us so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” Aquino-Fike said.

Marika Lynch is a communications consultant for Knight Foundation.

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