Identity-Based Philanthropy Has Risks And Rewards
Identity-Based Philanthropy Has Risks And Rewards

No one can say where your next best donors will come from, so you need to prepare for all contingencies and opportunities. In the book Diversity and Philanthropy, Lilya Wagner, Ed.D., CFRE, explores “identity-based philanthropy,” or the acceptance of the differences and the acknowledgment of identity preferences. 

“The beauty and the challenge of identity-based philanthropy is that there is much diversity — in practice, in approaches to generosity, in traditions, in cultural behaviors and more,” she wrote.

However, to reach diverse donors and supporters, it is important to keep in mind some important concepts:

  • Definitions and beliefs of philanthropy differ from culture to culture and even person to person. Furthermore, customs and traditions that are part of an ethnic identity also affect philanthropy;
  • Generational differences matter;
  • While philanthropy is strongly linked to family, the importance of community overall cannot be overstated. If potential donors do not see that philanthropy serves the community, they will not give; and,
  • Not all strategies or tools work for all identity-based prospects. Some are more effective than others, as is accessibility to various strategies by prospects. And that includes the use of social media and online networks.

Finally, what an organization actually does for a particular ethnic group says much more than what the brand or image of that organization might convey. Serve first, and then ask for support.