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Diversifying Philanthropy

New report speaks to donors of color

CFT and Texas Women’s Foundation hosted a fall event to discuss the importance of donor diversity and highlight the release of a new report titled The Apparitional Donor: Understanding and Engaging High Net Worth Donors of Color, developed by Faces of Giving and The Vaid Group.

Ashindi Maxton, a member of the team that spent two years gathering data and preparing the report, highlighted how imperative it is to identify and engage individuals of color in philanthropy. “There is not a lot of diversity in donor groups, and it affects the things that get funded; it affects the conversations in the room. It affects the way we approach problems together,” Maxton noted in her opening remarks. “Donors of color can help drive systemic change and set the priorities for philanthropic giving.”

Data from the report showed several facts about high net worth donors of color. High net worth donors of color:

  • Give generously, especially to create opportunity.
  • Often give outside formal philanthropy.
  • Actively engage in building and creating wealth.

While the report was based on interviews with donors nationwide, Hali Lee, co-founder and managing director of Faces of Giving and a member of the research team, shared insightful data from how the Dallas sample of high net worth donors of color – 24 of the 103 interviewed nationwide – differed from the national sample.

Among the Dallas group, almost all of them earned, rather than inherited, their wealth. “The study showed that the Dallas sample featured wealth earners and creators, who together gave more than $2 million annually,” said Lee.

The host committee of CFT’s Diversity in Philanthropy: Understanding, Engaging and Networking High Net Worth Donors of Color event pose together after the event.​


Tuhina De O’Connor, co-founder and co-executive director of Faces of Giving, noted the importance of putting individuals of color in leadership positions within the philanthropic sector to both help identify other donors and set priorities that reflect the societal needs important to diverse donors.

A few of the emerging themes that surfaced from  Faces of Giving’s research:

  • There is a complex push and pull around wealth and family.
  • Donors care deeply about creating opportunity.
  • People are highly networked, yet there is a strong interest in being networked in a different way.
  • There is a huge awareness of the racial wealth gap and other systemic inequities.
  • Most donors of color have experienced discrimination personally.
  • Many want to move the needle for big systemic change but they don’t know how.

In the report, researchers reported that high net worth donors of color are “keen to help create opportunities for others, as others have done for them, often through education and gifting money to family and friends.” The tradition of giving in communities of color has long been a part of these cultures and is considered a priority. They might not necessarily identify with the word “philanthropy” but are indeed actively participating in giving back.

CFT’s Monica Egert Smith moderated the event’s panel discussion. “At CFT, we see firsthand how important diversity and inclusion are in building a thriving community,” Egert Smith said. “We’re here to help bring donors of all demographics together to create positive, lasting change.”

Across the nation, we can work together to create a powerful and joyful community of donors of all backgrounds, develop cross-racial strategies to focus on deep and systemic change, and work to achieve impact through research-based collective work that reflects the passions and priorities of all our donors.

Akilah Wallace, Lisa Montgomery, Tameka Cass, Tyeshia Wilson

Read the report: The Apparitional Donor: Understanding and Engaging High Net Worth Donors of Color, developed by Faces of Giving and The Vaid Group


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