The headlines and the conference brochures tell the story: diversity in philanthropy has hit the big time. AB624 might have been the catalyst for a discussion that is now expanding and growing richer in substance. To date the discourse about diversity in philanthropy has centered on a call for foundations to recruit more diverse staff and boards and fund more diverse organizations. This is clearly of vital importance and Changemakers plays its part in this primarily by educating family foundations about diversity and inclusiveness. What the conversation often fails to explore is how foundations can invest in and grow philanthropy within diverse communities. Immigrant and established communities of color have always done their own way of giving but are now trying to come into their own in the world of mainstream philanthropy in the U.S. What is the role of traditional philanthropy in helping them find a seat at the table of organized giving? In the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors’ recent report “Philanthropy in a Changing society “ Achieving Effectiveness through Diversity” is a recommendation that philanthropy “build new partnerships and collaborations with philanthropic associations, affinity groups and other nonprofits working to increase visibility and participation of disenfranchised groups into mainstream philanthropy.”
Recent research conducted by Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University in conjunction with the University of Michigan’s Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) is also illuminating on the why the issue of diversity in philanthropy is important not only to philanthropy but the larger nonprofit sector. A recent article in the Nonprofit Times notes: “Based on new evidence of charitable contributions, these research findings suggest that immigrants are being incorporated into U.S. philanthropic traditions, adapt rapidly to U.S. charitable institutions, and also have the potential to contribute to and transform nonprofits.”
Could it be that diversity in philanthropy has a multi-faceted issue that goes beyond how foundations structure themselves and their grantmaking? Might capacity building in disenfranchised communities serve as another critical strategy for diversity that also (and not insignificantly) helps move the entire nonprofit sector forward? Certainly to avoid the implications of shifting demographics can only have long-term negative affects on the nonfat sector. We must capitalize on this moment of heightened visibility of the issue of diversity in philanthropy to connect the dots between diverse giving and strengthening nonprofits for the long haul.
Now the promo: please check out Changemakers’ EDG (Essentials for Diversity in Philanthropy) curriculum, which is designed to help people who have been on the outside of the field (people of color and other disenfranchised groups) find a place on the inside. By working with those who work directly with donors, EDG is designed to help donors give fully and meaningfully to nonprofit efforts to transform communities from the inside out.