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The Donor Gap

Giving priorities, values, and attitudes differ based on ethnic groups in the United States. Blackbaud’s Diversity in Giving study shows that Caucasian donors make up nearly three-fourths of today’s donor population, meaning that fundraising has not yet cast a wide enough net to create a donor pool that reflects today’s diverse population.


The Donor Gap Explained

Looking at the composition of all donors, whites are over-represented compared to the overall proportion of the population. Findings reveal that the demographic picture of the donor universe more closely resembles the racial and ethnic makeup of America in 1990 than that of America today. A donor gap has been identified, where both African American and Hispanics remain underrepresented in the donor universe, though Asian donor participation mirrors the Asian population size.

Source: Blackbaud Institute, Diversity in Giving

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Nearly three-fourths of donors today are non-Hispanic whites, despite the fact that whites make up just over 60% of the U.S. population. This gap does not suggest that whites are ‘more generous’ than other racial and ethnic groups. Analysis of the data shows that factors like income or religious engagement are far more significant predictors of giving behavior than race or ethnicity. An underrepresentation of African Americans and Hispanics suggests that organized philanthropy has not adequately engaged non-white communities. This trend agrees with survey responses from the Diversity in Giving study showing that African American and Hispanic donors report being solicited for gifts less frequently than other groups. This underscores that further solicitation could well lead to more gifts and engagement of these communities. While overall giving trends reflect the practices of the majority white donors, this section dives into giving trends specifically among underrepresented communities.

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Overarching Findings

Among individuals surveyed in the Diversity in Giving study, donors agreed on several major points regardless of race or ethnicity. Core values of civic engagement and giving cross all lines. The major findings are as follows:

  • The impulse to help those in need is universal. Majorities across all sub-groups believe it is important to support social good organizations. Of all donors, roughly one in three donated time as well as money by volunteering.
  • Religion and faith are both drivers and indicators of giving. Religious organizations capture a significant proportion of all money donated. Moreover, donors who report being actively engaged in a faith community are more likely to give—and to give more—to the full spectrum of nonprofits and causes.
  • Wealthier individuals donate more in absolute terms than those with mid-level or lower incomes. Findings suggest that household income is a primary predictor of how much individuals give regardless of race or ethnicity.

Most social good professionals aspire to meet their donors where they are. Outdated, one-size-fits-all models no longer meet this need, so fundraisers must make shifts in fundraising channels, fostering deeper personalization and stewardship, in order to convey the importance of their missions and ensure representation of their supporters.


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