Recap | Diversifying Fundraising and Philanthropy One Day at a Time

publication date: Nov 28, 2019
author/source: Preeti Gill, Pedro Govantes, Tanya Rumble, Melody Song

Diversity is a fact in Canadian society but inclusion is a choice. This gap between the changes in our culture are important. As one example, as immigration grows, new Canadians are not connected to the existing charity sector. 

Diversity is not quick work but it is critical. We need to ask ourselves "Are we in our sector helping promote a less diverse culture?" Without intentional action, organizations will always be status quo.

Why is diversity important for your database?

Major gifts expert, Pedro Govantes feels diversity is a moral and ethical imperative. If charities are going to be seen as leaders in our community, it is imperative we model inclusiveness. We need to include the entire community.

On a practical level diversity just makes good business sense. Demographics are moving to a more diverse population. If we don't figure this out, we will be cutting the future of our organizations short.

Planned giving leader, Tanya Rumble notes that the word for "philanthropy" is rooted in the meaning "love of humanity." This means we need to deepen our relationships with our communities who both benefit from and support our organizations. This is also an opportunity to make our approaches more robust. If we don't find a way to build true relationships in our growing new communities, we are not future-proofing our organizations. Our organizations will become less relevant.

Data and methodology expert, Melody Song noted that our database is already diversified. She pointed out we already segment by audience. She commented that, not only are we overlooking visibly diverse communities, we are also overlooking other audiences including women and youth. The real myth in the sector is the underlying assumption that all donors are white males. Our systems are all conditioned to focus only on that audience.

What are strategies you have used to engage donors of diverse backgrounds?

The panel noted that the effort to engage donors from diverse backgrounds often this kicks off when an organization notices that members of a particular community are starting to give large gifts other places. If you are a health organization where a particular disease strikes a particular community, a strong mission partnership can transition into a strong fundraising relationship. This takes years and comes from a grassroots perspective. You have to partner with communities not just have a "take" perspective.

Melody notes that each community is complex. For example, the Chinese community includes people from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Mainland China. It's important as a strategy to diversify staff because that will help build internal expertise on cultural nuance.  To be clear, diverse fundraisers do not have to be the people working to raise money in their community. But we need to reflect those communities before we go ask them for gifts.

Pedro commented that we need to be able to cast a wider net for donors. They need to see the bigger picture of what the impact of their philanthropy can be. This wider net includes inviting in younger donors when they can give time and engage them holistically in the organization. This is an important long-term approach that will set us up well.

Data diversification

Moderator and research consultant, Preeti Gill, notes that there is a tendency in the sector to only use data from conventional sources. What is also complex is that people have their own definitions of themselves. That is an ongoing data opportunity and challenge.

Tanya notes that the way we collect data may have unconscious biases. For instance, does our data allow non-binary gender identity? Does our database allow us to have same gender partnerships? Allow non-married partnerships? No matter how broadly we think, have we gathered information in ways that connects with everyone?

Pablo notes that privacy comes to bear in discussing these issues. In the US, identifying as Hispanic can come with a sense of risk. So you have to factor in privacy issues in data collection.

Broadening the profession

Tanya notes that part of finding Board members at AFP Toronto is to be sure to value lived experience as one of the criteria in choosing Board members. To ensure that Boards have broad representation The AFP Fellowship in Inclusion and Philanthropy has helped build a pipeline.

Pedro is working with, but outside of CASE, with MAP to identify the trajectory of careers and what interventions can help diverse professionals. Right now the focus is on introducing people into the profession through CASE's residency program and a one to two year mentoring as they settle into the first years of their professional experience. CASE's research has found that young professionals of diverse backgrounds move into other professions quickly if they are not mentored.

Melody notes AFP Calgary has sponsored a hashtag campaign. This effort brought together about 100 people to develop values and co-create solutions. She comments that diversity needs to be more than a checkbox. It also takes courage for people to speak up about their difference.

Advice for young people who identify as different in some way

Pedro's advice is "Find a mentor to be a trusted ear and a trusted voice" as you try to navigate the sector, particularly your early years.

Tanya notes you should recognize the power of your diverse perspective. Take opportunity and demand opportunity when your perspective is needed. 

Melody recommends young people be more courageous and educate others about your difference. She recommends finding a sponsor - someone who will advocate for you. And find your community. 

Thank you to iWave for sponsoring this important webinar. If you'd like to view the webinar you can find it in iWave's webinar library.

Moderator Preeti Gill is a prospect development professional in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Who operates independently under Sole Searcher Strategies. she asks "How can I help you and your organization advance women’s philanthropy using prospect research, fundraising and advocacy techniques? Let’s discuss!"

Pedro Govantes leads a major gift program within the Tri-State Region of New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania representing the breadth of the University of Michigan. 

Tanya Rumble is an authentic, resilient and results-driven advancement and philanthropy leader who has raised millions of dollars for some of Canada's largest charities including the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and the Canadian Cancer Society. Currently she leads the planned giving program at McMaster University.

Melody Song is the founder of Do Good Here, a network of professionals delivering design labs to foster collaboration and connectivity in the social sector. Combining data science and design thinking, Melody uses data-driven and empathy-based methodology to help build capacity for nonprofits to be versatile, diverse, and sustainable.

Resources include

KCI "Engaging new immigrant communities"

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie TED talk- The danger of a single story

This is a summary of a webinar that Editor Ann Rosenfield attended while eating lunch. Any errors or mis-statements are the result of her eating at her desk while transcribing.

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