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How Unconscious Bias May Be Affecting Your Fundraising With Black Philanthropists

4 min read
February 03, 2022
Sabrina Walker Hernandez headshot
Sabrina Walker Hernandez
Three women sitting on a couch in discussion

We’re excited to bring you the first of our six guest insights from Neon One’s industry report on the future of individual giving. Sabrina Walker Hernandez helps to shine a focused light on Black philanthropy in the United States, helping to unpack some of the ways we as fundraisers should rethink our approach to this extremely generous segment of our society. 

Sabrina Walker Hernandez is President and CEO of Supporting World Hope, a nonprofit management consulting firm. With more than 25 years of experience in nonprofit management, fundraising, and leadership, Sabrina Walker Hernandez helps small nonprofit staff & boards build relationships that convert into more donations. This post is an excerpt from our report, Donors: Understanding The Future of Individual Giving.  

Sixty percent of fundraising is cultivation — building relationships. As a fundraiser, you need to build relationships with all people, including people of color. The one thing I know is that the desire to give is universal. Our job as fundraisers is to match that desire with your cause. If you are not doing that you are leaving money on the table.

Does this mean you may have to tweak your model? Yes! One size does not fit all. You may have to shift in fundraising channels, in messaging and language, and even in governance. Due to the pressing social and economic challenges we face, this effort has never been more important.

The demographics of America are changing. Nonprofits must be proactive to attract a more diverse donor base.

Many major gift fundraisers still overlook donors from a variety of demographic groups, even though about 14 percent of U.S. millionaires are from minority groups. That number will likely grow.

Organized philanthropy is not doing an adequate job of engaging non-white communities. In a number of studies, African American and Hispanic donors say they are solicited less frequently and would give more if they were asked more often.

Want more great insights from Sabrina Walker Hernandez?

She’s hosting the webinar Building Relationships For Fundraising Success on February 24th.

Register Today

Why You Might Not Be Asking People of Color For Money

Let’s examine why you may not be asking people of color for money. But particularly because I am a Black woman, I want to talk about Black people.

Unconscious bias. When you think Black, you probably don’t think of givers or donors. Some of you may even jump to the stereotype of takers. You know, the myth of the welfare queen. The idea that black people are too lazy to work, instead of relying on public benefits to get by, paid for by the rest of the upstanding citizens. 

The Truth About Black Philanthropy

Did you know Blacks give a larger share of their wealth to charities than any other racial group in America? I myself give over $10,000 a year to charity. I am not wealthy by any means. I am a middle-class black woman.

Like my fellow Black donors, I don’t just give to the church. Higher education and the arts rank high on the giving list.

According to the Urban Institute, Black families have contributed the largest proportion of their wealth to charity of all racial and ethnic groups since 2010, despite the equity gap.

In a 2012 report from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, it was found that Black donors give away 25 percent more of their incomes than white donors. The report said that nearly two-thirds of Black households make charitable donations, worth a total of about $11 billion a year.

Countless Blacks, from all walks of life, give of their time, talent and money generously through their churches, clubs, sororities, fraternities, and giving circles — groups of people who pool charitable money for nonprofits they collectively choose to support. Black women also made August Black Philanthropy Month, an international celebration of giving by people descended from Africa.

We are not new nor are we an emerging demographic in charitable giving. We have always been here. If nonprofits are serious about working with Black people, they must commit to diversity and inclusion across their organizations and dedicate the time, resources, and attention to identify, cultivate, solicit, and steward Black donors on our terms.

Donors Report Tablet View
Donors Report Tablet View

Donors: Understanding The Future Of Individual Giving

Want to understand your donors like never before? Then sign up to get our newest industry report on the future of individual giving!

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