Donors Of Color Lead Shift In Giving

Philanthropic giving to racial and social justice causes increased across all demographic groups in 2020, with donors of color leading shifts in individual giving patterns through crowdfunding and mutual aid.

Some 16% of American households gave to racial and social justice causes in 2020, up from 13% in 2019, according to Everyday Donors of Color: Diverse Philanthropy During Times of Change by the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI. Asian households were more likely to give to racial and social justice causes in 2020 than any other group:

  • Asian, 31%
  • Black, 19%
  • Hispanic, 14%
  • White, non-Hispanic, 13%

“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. Usili, 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 individual funders outside of communities of color.”

The 44-page report 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 more likely to engage in informal giving or giving through crowdfunding sites. About a third of donors of color (34%) said they give through crowdfunding sites in a typical year and more than half (52%) said it makes it easier to directly support causes by giving. Donors of color are engaged in other forms of generosity in a typical year:

  • Donating goods, 70% 
  • Volunteering, 53%
  • Donating blood, 34%

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 who make charitable gifts to other causes.

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. 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.

Grassroots leaders within communities of color are also increasingly shaping how philanthropy is organized to maximize the impact on social and racial justice, according to the report. This includes institutional donors, such as foundations and corporate funders, looking to grassroots leaders and organizations within communities of color for guidance in shaping where to direct charitable giving.

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. 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.