On Racial and Social Justice, Donors of Color are Creating New Sources of Influence and Highlighting Impact of Mutual Aid and Grassroots Giving Networks
Findings of new research from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI demonstrate expanded philanthropic support from individual donors for racial and social justice causes in 2020. The report 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 report, 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.
The study found that 16% of American households gave to racial or social justice causes in 2020, an increase from 13% of households in 2019. Philanthropic giving to racial and social justice causes increased across all demographic groups, but the growing impact of crowdfunding and mutual aid demonstrate how donors of color are leading shifts in individual giving patterns.
“Donors of color are changing the fabric of philanthropy in this county 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,” says Una O. Osili, Ph.D., Dean’s Fellow of the Mays Family Institute on Diverse Philanthropy 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.”
Increased Giving to Racial and Social Justice Extends Beyond Traditional Forms of Philanthropy
Among the growing number of households that gave to racial and social justice, Black Americans and Asian Americans were more likely than others to give to racial and social justice causes. Donors of color are also helping lead shifts toward non-traditional forms of philanthropy, such as mutual aid, crowdfunding and other sources of grassroots giving.
Donors of color are more likely to engage in informal giving, volunteering or giving through crowdfunding sites. Thirty-four percent of donors of color said they give through crowdfunding sites in a typical year. About 90% had heard of crowdfunding, and 52% said crowdfunding makes it easier to directly support causes by giving. 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.
Thirty-one percent 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. For example, the Asian American Advocacy Fund has helped fund bail funds and demonstrated support for protests from Black communities regarding criminal justice reform.
As Philanthropic Giving Patterns Prioritize Racial and Social Justice, Donors of Color are Driving Shifts in How Philanthropy Initiates Change
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. Wealthy donors and major funders are increasingly turning to and supporting grassroots leaders, bringing visibility to philanthropic approaches, tools and networks within communities of color.
- In Baltimore, wealthy donors and major funders, such as the Rockefeller Foundation and Baltimore Ravens player Calais Campbell, turned to community organizers and organizations like CLLCTIVLY to determine where and how to direct their giving to impact Black-led organizations.
- The California Black Freedom Fund has similarly become a focal point for investing in grassroots leaders and movements. Several funders are collaborating to raise $100 million over five years and are supporting Black-led organizations and initiatives.
- The Hispanics in Philanthropy PowerUp Fund is attracting support for its work to support Latino entrepreneurs – including drawing support from corporate funders like Google.org.
- The BMPP (Building More Philanthropy with Purpose) Giving Circle in Minneapolis is made up of Asian American immigrant and refugee families. In response to COVID and the racial justice movement, the BMPP Giving Circle directed support to mutual aid funds and local organizing work focused on solidarity with the Black community.
- Local volunteers have also played a critical role in distributing food and personal protective equipment kits across the Navajo and Hopi reservations, which are located in parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah
Osili noted that with the expansion of agenda setting and funding influence, grassroots leaders and donors of color have helped equip institutional funders to be more responsive to real-time needs within communities of color.
“As bridge-builders between historically privileged sources of philanthropic giving and communities in need of assistance, donors of color and grassroots organizers play a unique role in maximizing philanthropic impact in their communities,” she said. “These leaders are securing support in unique ways and expanding the influence of organizations and initiatives led by people of color.”
About the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy
The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI is dedicated to improving philanthropy to improve the world by training and empowering students and professionals to be innovators and leaders who create positive and lasting change. The school offers a comprehensive approach to philanthropy through its undergraduate, graduate, certificate and professional development programs, its research and international programs and through The Fund Raising School, Lake Institute on Faith & Giving, the Mays Family Institute on Diverse Philanthropy and the Women’s Philanthropy Institute. Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram and “Like” us on Facebook.