What is inclusive fundraising and why is it important? For one, it’s been estimated that roughly 14% of U.S. millionaires are from minority backgrounds—yet they’re often overlooked in fundraising. While it may not be intentional, many nonprofits target “traditional” donors: those who are wealthy, white, and older. Similarly, conventional fundraising communication and events exclude donors who experience disability or have less traditional forms of funds.
It’s crucial that the nonprofit world circumvent some of these limitations regarding accessibility, equity, and inclusion in fundraising. Here are 6 ways to do just that.
1. Recognize Organizational Trends that Impact Diversity and Inclusion
It’s no secret that racial inequity is present in the fundraising and nonprofit worlds. Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) make up less than 10% of fundraising professionals and less than 20% of executive roles in the entire nonprofit sector. Without representation of people of color in an organizational or fundraising capacity, nonprofits need to emphasize:
- Regular discussions of race, power, and privilege.
- Implementation of practices related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- Ensuring that professionals of color have access to positions with more power and autonomy.
- Educating staff on their biases and how they impact fundraising efforts.
2. Tread Lightly with Certain Tools
How do you decolonize a fundraiser? First, it’s important to recognize that fundraising and wealth in general are based upon slavery, colonization, and other forms of injustice. Quite often, the comforts of white donors have been prioritized, which is normalizing white saviorism and poverty tourism, while little is done to confront the difficult reality of injustice.
Challenging the colonial roots of fundraising can be supported by reconsidering some common fundraising practices.
- Rethink wealth screenings that may exclude POC or certain communities.
- Understand that your donor databases may be discriminatory — based on antiquated notions of etiquette, Anglicized or Euro-centric conventions for names, assumptions about identity, and stereotypes.
- Evaluate if algorithms and artificial intelligence perpetuate biases — particularly against POC and women under the guise of being “objective.” Put another way, recognize that data collected by algorithms and AI may have inherent biases built in.
3. Use Best Practices to Avoid Bias
According to a 2022 study investigating 113 millionaires of color, nearly every single one reported experiencing ethnic or racial bias. Although the individuals reported annual giving amounts that ranged between $4,000 to $17 million—totaling $56 million—their voices remain underrepresented in the philanthropy world.
Overwhelmingly, nonprofit organizations lack the appropriate strategies and experience to effectively engage with high net worth (HNW) BIPOC individuals. To support racial equity in fundraising, nonprofits can consider the following:
- Fundraisers should seek donors who don’t look like their current ones. This can be accomplished by understanding different donor bases by hiring fundraisers of color, consulting an outside expert, or seeking out members of color within their organization — all without tokenizing them or considering them just an item on a check list.
Then, it’s important to actually engage potential BIPOC donors! Hispanic and African-American donors report being solicited less frequently, but say that they would give if asked more often.
- The presence of HNW BIPOC donors also needs to be made visible and given the recognition it deserves. Hosting inclusive events or promoting BIPOC-oriented networks are a few ways to accomplish more inclusive philanthropy.
- It should also be understood that POC donors and women give differently than their white, male counterparts. It’s important to understand these differences and use them to create more inclusive practices that respect them.
- Finally, fundraisers should check their biases and correct their assumptions by getting to know their donors.Take the time to learn about their giving practices, the causes that have meaning for them, and the legacy they wish to leave.
Information about a donor’s culture and values can help with adapting an outreach approach that’s based on the needs of a community.
4. Embed Inclusivity and Accessibility into Your Communications
Diversity and inclusion also play a key role in how you communicate with potential donors. Share updates by using multiple mediums. Even better, consult donors on how and when they want you to update them.
If you’re one of the many people asking, how can I make my fundraising more inclusive, it really depends upon you getting to know all types of donors. Then, it’s important to use language and communication methods that are inclusive and welcoming — not shallow efforts designed to simply “check a box.”
5. Host Accessible Fundraising Events
Fundraising events themselves may be excluding donors. Nonprofits need to assume that people with disabilities will attend an event — both in person and virtually. Regardless of where or how it’s hosted, consider offering the following:
- ASL interpreters
- Clearly printed materials and signage
- Audio description
- Food that accommodates common allergies and dietary restrictions
- Braille or low-vision copies of printed materials
- Wheelchair accessibility
6. Recognize New Forms of Funding
Cryptocurrency is the fastest growing asset of the decade and it’s set to become a significant source of funding for nonprofits. It’s becoming increasingly popular, in particular with younger donors. It also may facilitate higher donations. It’s been found that 45% of cryptocurrency donors contributed $1,000 or more to charity, compared to just 33% of traditional investors.
While it offers many benefits to both organizations and donors especially because it’s highly tax-efficient, many aren’t aware that they can use cryptocurrency in fundraising. As a nonprofit, it’s essential to not only recognize this significant source of funding, but also ensure that potential donors know that they can use their digital assets philanthropically.
Final Thoughts on Inclusive Fundraising
It’s important to ground your fundraising efforts in equity, inclusivity, and accessibility. Not only does this promote justice, but it also brings in potential donors who’ve traditionally been left out. Inclusive fundraising hinges upon both a moral imperative and a business case, and when you adapt your practices and strategies to support inclusivity, everyone can benefit.
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