Donation patterns of multicultural populations

publication date: Apr 5, 2012
author/source: Doug Norris

Successful marketers in all sectors are paying attention to the growing cultural diversity of Canada’s population. The reasons are clear. Today, 19% of the population considers themselves to be members of a visible minority – and this figure is expected to rise to 31% by 2036. Diversity is much higher in the large urban areas, particularly Toronto and Vancouver. By 2031, close to 60% of these metropolitan populations are expected to be visible minorities.

Five geodemographic target groups

Geodemographic techniques help us understand and reach the various multicultural markets. Environics Analytics’ segmentation system PRIZMC2 describes Canadians using a cluster analysis of census demographics and survey data on how they spend their time and money, all linked to geography. Of the 66 PRIZMC2 segments, 13 show high concentrations of immigrants.

A subsequent analysis based on demographics, values and donation patterns resulted in five distinct target groups. Each one is given a short name embodying the key qualities that members share.

Older Established European Families

Over half the members of this group are immigrants, including many older immigrants from Italy, Portugal and Greece. However, the group also includes some second- and third-generation Canadians, sometimes living together as traditional extended families. Recently, it’s seen an influx of immigrants from Asia and Latin America. The group includes both home owners and renters, and their incomes and lifestyles are firmly middle-class. Members are equally divided between those living in Toronto and those living in Montreal.

Established Multicultural Donors

Nearly half the members of this group are immigrants. They are well educated, middle-aged to older, and many settled in Canada during the 1980s and 1990s.  Nearly 40% are members of a visible minority group – Chinese being the largest sub-group. The average household income is about 25% above the Canadian norm, and, not surprisingly, members tend to donate to charities at above-average rates. Close to 80% of this group live in the Toronto census metropolitan area.

Suburban Multicultural Families

This large group (2.4 million people) is made up of ethnically diverse middle-aged families who own homes in the suburbs of Canada’s largest cities. Nearly 60% are visible minorities, typically Chinese or South Asian. Many have university and college education, yet these newcomers tend to work in service sector jobs, earn average incomes and have low-key, child-centered lifestyles. About a third are found in each of the Toronto and Vancouver metros, with the remaining population spread across other large urban areas.

Young Socially Conscious Newcomers

This is a group of young, single, multi-ethnic immigrants who arrived relatively recently from varied parts of the world. Many are students or recent graduates living in apartments near university campuses. With few children in its households, the group has the air of an immigrant launching pad. Although their incomes are relatively modest, these young strivers have a deep feeling of belonging to their communities and a pronounced sense of social responsibility. They are found exclusively in Toronto (56%), Montreal (32%) and Vancouver (12%).

Struggling Newcomers

Over 60% of this young group are foreign-born, hailing from South Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Many of these immigrants – a mix of singles, families and lone-parent households – arrived in the last 10 years and now live in high-rise apartments. And despite the high rate of university education, these young workers earn only lower-middle incomes from entry-level jobs and face tough economic challenges. This group is concentrated in Toronto (71%) and Montreal’s older city neighbourhoods (18%).

Social values affecting donor behaviour

Environics Research has measured social values annually in Canada since 1983 and currently tracks 87 trends covering human motivation and social relations. Some of these trends may provide insights into what motivates donations.

All of our target groups tend to believe that scientific advances will eventually succeed in solving major world problems. They also believe that a number of problems – pollution, the greenhouse effect, climate catastrophes, replacing non-renewable energy sources and health concerns – can be solved by future advances in science and technology.

In addition, all groups rank above average in their community involvement. Most of the groups (except for Older Established European Families) express an above-average desire to leave behind a legacy – financial, cultural, moral or spiritual –either to their descendants or to society at large. Finally, all groups (again with the exception of Older Established European Families) rank a bit below average in feeling insecure about their financial future.

Religious organizations rank high

By analyzing data in light of these social values, we can begin to understand what motivates donation behaviour in the five groups. Across all groups, more than half of donations go to religious organizations. Only Established Multicultural Donors donate to non-religious groups at a considerably above-average rate, and their overall giving is 50% above average.

Health care giving low

The target groups give to health organizations at below-average rates, although Established Multicultural Donors rank above average in giving to hospital foundations.  Donations to other types of organizations are more variable. Only the Established Multicultural Donor group ranks above average for giving to all types of organizations. 

Although both of the recent immigrant groups have below-average donor rates, they favour different organizations. The Struggling Newcomers group prefers cultural organizations, where they are average donors, while the Young Socially Conscious Newcomers group ranks substantially above average in donating to political, cultural, environmental and alumni organizations.

Media preferences

To reach these different donor groups, PRIZMC2 linked data on their media habits with Delvinia’s AskingCanadians™ data on social media use. What stands out is the heavy use of the Internet by all target groups except Older Established European Families. All groups have above-average knowledge of social media and are open to receiving marketing messages through social media.

High potential, especially online

All this analysis leads to some overarching conclusions. While recent immigrants may have limited resources for donations in the short term, there may be substantial longer-term potential that should be developed as newcomers settle into their new home country. And all of the new multicultural groups are very Internet-savvy – an important implication for many charitable organizations. In the future, social media would appear to be a promising approach for connecting with many in the multicultural community.

One of Canada’s leading experts on the Census, Doug Norris is a Senior VP and Chief Demographer at Environics Analytics.

This article about the work of Environics Analytics first appeared in Direct Marketing magazine. Used with permission.

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