The world’s population is diversifying, racially and ethnically. Today, one in three people in the United States is black, Hispanic, Asian or Native American. Fueled by immigration and high birthrates, populations of ethnic and racial minorities in the United States will grow seven times faster than the white, non-Hispanic population over the next decade, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Fourteen percent speak a language other than English at home. The l990s became the decade of diversity. And tomorrow’s adults are today’s youth. Twenty-five percent of California’s 4.5 million kindergarten through high-school students, for example, are Hispanic. By 2010, there will be no “majority.” Forty million Americans are multicultural by birth. African Americans, with substantial buying power, and Hispanics, soon to be the largest segment, are part of most major advertising campaigns. Asian Americans, the fastest growing segment, have already been targeted by some.
By 2050, “minorities” will make up just under half of the U.S. population. According to demographer William H. Frey of the Milken Institute, immigrants are reconstructing the face of America. By one estimate, immigrants and their kids will account for more than half of the 50 million people who will be added to the nation’s population in the next 25 years. Non-Hispanic whites will decrease to 53 percent of the population from 75 percent today. By 2050, the projected population of 383 million will be: 21 percent Hispanic; 15 percent black; 10 percent Asian; and 1 percent Native American. In California, New York and Florida, “minorities” are already the majority.
Although non-Hispanic whites will be the majority of Americans for at least the next 90 years, the share is steadily shrinking, and the number of non-white and Hispanic Americans is rapidly growing. As our population continues to diversify, so must our base of prospects, donors and volunteers.
Minorities are philanthropic
Minority donors are generally motivated to “give back” to the community after achieving success in their own lives, according to a study by the Council on Foundations and the Association of Black Foundation Executives. Many black Americans, for example, start scholarship funds to improve the likelihood of young people pursuing higher education. A study conducted by Hide Yamatani at the University of Pittsburgh demonstrates that financial aid to African American college students brings a healthy return to society. Tracking of l3,000 recipients of aid shows that they contributed back nearly 20 times the $7 million invested in them, including $9l million in taxes and approximately $40.4 million in financial and volunteer contributions. More than 76 percent of them volunteered for nonprofit organizations, compared with the national average of 45 percent.
African-Americans have been documented as among the nation’s most generous donors of time and money. According to the Independent Sector, the proportion of black respondents reporting household contributions increased from 6l percent in l989 to 64 percent in l991. In l99l, blacks also gave the highest percentage of household income (2.7 percent) compared with whites (2.2 percent) and Hispanics (2.1 percent). Black Americans say the church is the primary beneficiary of their giving. Forty-seven percent of African Americans volunteered in 1998, a 12 percent increase from 1995.
Similar to their white counterparts, affluent blacks have often been accused of being "BUPPIES" (Black Urban Professionals), worshipping status and possessions above all else. However, data refutes the idea of an indifferent black middle class. “The black middle class has always been concerned about and involved with uplifting other blacks,” says Dr. Alvin Thoreton, a professor of political science at Howard University. “It's a historical attribute.” In recent years, Oprah Winfrey’s philanthropy has been an inspiration to Americans of all backgrounds.
Furthermore, economist Emmett D. Carson, author of The Hand Up: Black Self-Help in America, says that charitable contributions from the black middle class are on a par with those of their white counterparts. “In some areas of giving, we give more, but the difference is small,” he said.
Blacks with incomes over $40,000 gave at least $500 to charity, the same percentage as white Americans, according to African American Traditions of Giving and Serving: A Midwest Perspective, by Cheryl Hall-Russell and Robert H. Kasberg. Informal philanthropy remains the most prominent way that African Americans display their giving and serving traditions. In general, African Americans demonstrate reluctance to make donations to open-ended funds and charities.
While blacks have gained economic ground since 1967, and their household income has grown at a faster rate than that of non-Hispanic whites, only 2.7 percent of black households have incomes of $100,000 or more, compared to 8.9 percent of white households. That means you need to use some creative means to enable them to be part of bigger gift and endowment campaigns. For example, let donors make monthly payments, or pool gifts under a common fund or goal either at your organization or at a community foundation.
Asian and Hispanic giving
Asians and Hispanics also give far more to charity than previously indicated. Several studies in cross-cultural ethnography involving Asian and Hispanic communities have examined cultural dimensions of gift giving, sharing and the distribution of income and wealth, as well as the philanthropic impact of religion, mutual benefit associations, God parenthood and kinship. The conclusions: While Asian and Hispanic Americans may not send a check to United Way or the American Cancer Society, they share with extended family and ethnic members of their community, as well as needy relatives and friends in their home countries.
Hispanic giving is made up mostly of one-to-one donations to relatives, gifts to the church and to causes in their native countries. This giving is informal, mostly through non-institutional means, and tends to be sporadic and uneven. Although cash is often scarce, the giving of in-kind service is very common. The idea of giving through organized philanthropic structures outside of the religious institution is new. Forty-six percent of Hispanics volunteered in 1998, a six percent increase since 1995.
Generally, Asians consider the family first, followed by specific causes that benefit the Asian community. Like the U.S. Hispanic population, the Asian American population represents a diversity of ethnic populations, such as Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Korean, Pacific Islander, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Laotian, East Indian, Thai and Samoan—all with separate traditions, cultures and languages. This makes a single approach difficult. At this time, few studies have been done on philanthropy among specific Asian American populations.
A major impediment to giving for blacks, Hispanics and Asian Americans is that, simply put, they are least likely to be asked. However, when asked, the percentage who contributed were two-and-a-half to three-and-a-half times greater than the percentages of those who were not asked!
At the beginning of the 1990s, only 65 percent of black Americans and 56 percent of Hispanic Americans indicated they were asked to give, compared to 74 percent of white, non-Hispanic Americans, according to the Giving and Volunteering 1992 Survey conducted by the Independent Sector. While awareness improved over the last decade of the 20th century, the survey showed that 31 percent of Hispanics asked about why they give or do not give said they are “not asked” or “not asked by someone they know.”
The changing demographics will provide us with more fundraising opportunities, but will require more understanding on our parts of who our donors and prospects are and what they are like.
Judith Nichols is a development practitioner, author and nonprofit consultant with clients worldwide. http://www.moderndonor.com/