Toward Donor Diversity: A Prospect Researcher’s Call for Stronger Organizational Readiness

Prospect researchers are often asked about how to cultivate a diverse donor pool.

This is a worthy question, but first examining your nonprofit’s organizational structures, especially by those of us with white access, and privilege, is needed.

You see, before we can address where to find diverse donors, we need to assess if our institution is creating an environment in which diverse donors would not only feel welcomed, valued, and heard, but in which they feel safe and engaged to invest their capital.

To have a stronger organizational readiness, consider these questions:

• What do we offer to diverse donors?
• Is your programming sufficiently inclusive?
• How are you perceived in the communities you serve?
• Is your board and staff leadership reflective of the donor demographics you’d like to engage and solicit?

Without answering these questions, all you’ll get from your researchers is a list of prospective donors (and even potential board members) who are great on paper, but who will likely not have a reason to stay invested in your organization beyond a single gift.

In his incredible book, Decolonizing Wealth, Edgar Villanueva explains that “. . .the issue is not recruitment of diverse humans – the ‘pipeline’ focus on the past, laying a seat at the table, as is often said – the issue is creating a culture of respect, curiosity, acceptance, and love. It’s fundamentally about changing organizational culture, what constitutes acceptable behavior, and the definitions of success and leadership.”

Talk To Us

If you are about to ask your research team to find diverse donors for your nonprofit, it is also worth exploring how you can involve them in discussions about client programming and organizational strategy. Researchers are often left out of such planning processes, but many of us would love the opportunity to be partners in supporting equity and inclusivity, including finding new avenues for collaboration with external organizations like minority business associations, and peer organization donor rolls. And we have a lot of hard data to bring to the process!

Has your nonprofit thought about how you’re perceived by the diverse donors you seek? That’s an important first question.

One cultural nonprofit in Ohio asked that readiness question and decided to work on inviting communities of color to their park and recreation programs first, something they had long neglected. They also offered a one-year no-fee pass that proved to be exceedingly popular.

You can leverage your prospect researchers to move you closer the goal of diversifying your donor pool, but nonprofit executives need to ask for our input. Because we are researchers, we can find workshops, trainings, and consultants to help you dig deeper into your antiracism, equity, and diversity work.

A recent study published by Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, says this,
“. . . it is important that racial equity work is structurally supported across entire organizations, rather than being expected of, and left solely to, donors of color. Key to integrating donors of color into broader philanthropic networks is to recognize the wide-ranging cultural and social capital that they bring to the table, including that which is unrelated to racial justice and racialized communities.”

Nonprofits have tremendous power, and immense responsibility, to encourage and support the whole community. Prospect Research is a key part of the path toward a diverse and engaged donor pool – but the work starts internally with your organizational culture.

If you’d like to learn more about advanced prospect research, here’s a free white paper by our founder, Laurence A. Pagnoni where he explains the different approaches. Also, you can hear us talking about this subject on our recent webinar.

Make sure that your nonprofit is ready to sustain meaningful relationships with donors across the demographic spectrum, that is your ultimate goal.

What’s been your experience with recruiting diverse donors? Have you taken readiness steps to make sure your nonprofit is ready? Please forward this post to a colleague who may appreciate it.

 

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Related Posts

The Phrases That Encourage Estate Giving

Since August is “Make-A-Will” month, I’ve been writing about estate and legacy (planned) giving and wills, and plan to continue doing so for the next few weeks. Please let me know if the content helps you decide your course of action. Would You Make A “Gift” In Your Will? Did you know that it’s much more effective to ask your donors to make “Gifts in your will” rather than “Bequest Gifts?” Here’s why: Russell James, JD, PhD, CFP, a philanthropy researcher based at Texas Tech University, reports that, according to the latest donor surveys, asking people to consider “Gifts in your will”

Read More »

It’s Make-A-Will Month

August is National Make-A-Will Month, an incredible opportunity for your nonprofit to increase its legacy or planned gifts. The easiest planned gift for your nonprofit’s supporters to make is to leave a portion of their estate to your organization as a bequest in their will. Yet it’s highly likely that your donors don’t know how to create a will. They need your guidance. In fact, six in ten parents either don’t have a will or have one that’s out of date. Sample The Wood Library of Canandaigua, New York managed the matter proactively by creating this brochure . The Library

Read More »

Does Fundraising Slow Down in the Summer?

A reader asks, “Doesn’t giving slowdown in the summer?” Summertime is usually a challenging time for nonprofit fundraising and is often seen as the “off season.” Statistics show that nonprofits bring in less than 5% of their annual fundraising revenue in both July and August, respectively. Also, less donations are usually made during these two summer months than the rest of the year. Five Immediate Summertime Actions To make the most of the dog days of summer, consider these five immediate action steps: Increase your donor cultivation and stewardship Pick up the phone and call your major donors, even if

Read More »

Guest Post: Stop F***ing About With Your Logo And Stick To Fundraising Instead

We are proud to share this guest blog post by Mark Phillips of Bluefrog Fundraising. A few weeks ago, I presented Rogare’s inaugural Critical Fundraising lecture at Kingston University. My topic was charity rebranding. It’s an area of work I’ve long been interested in. I love great brands, and as a result, I tend to track what happens after a charity rebrands by keeping an eye on the numbers in their annual reports. By and large, if a rebrand is a tweak – that’s a change of visual ID, typeface or even a logo, it doesn’t really have much impact on

Read More »