This year, even more so than past, has been a year of thinking about and acting on equity and reconciliation. Most recently, I’ve thought a lot about equity in the fundraising profession. But it is as important that we explore the equity of the actual fundraising we do. I was inspired to think about this more critically after seeing the work my friend and colleague, Preeti Gill is doing.
Preeti is an accomplish prospect research and looks at equity in fundraising through her research lens. One of her current goals is to ensure that more women are in major gifts portfolios. After all, globally, women’s wealth growth is out pacing men’s and women are responsible for 64% of all charitable donations. But more than that, this work is about addressing the unconscious (or many conscious?) bias that old white men are the ones with the money. What’s equitable about that assumption given the above fact? Preeti’s suggestion is doing a full data audit using a gender lens, which you can read more about here. I’m also interested in thinking about data audits using other types of lenses such as a race and religion.
In the world of major gifts, I think it’s clear and easy how fundraisers could promote equity. This got me thinking about what this might look like for annual giving and mid-level giving programs. My suspicion is that it’s about not assuming who has the means to give and only appealing to them in our fundraising materials.
For larger donor file programs (like some annual giving programs), it starts with knowing the landscape of your donor file. I probably say this at least once a week but knowing who your donor audience is is your most important resource as a fundraiser. It’s too easy to make assumptions about your donors. You need to rely on data insights instead. Are they really who you think they are? Donor surveys can be helpful to answer questions like this.
Beyond your current donor file, it could be helpful to think about the landscape of prospective donors. Who is it that you consciously or unconsciously target in your acquisition campaigns?
You might also want to look to broader industry research to consider how demographic trends might influence changes to your fundraising program. One that I would draw your attention to is #9 on this list — non-Hispanic whites are predicted to no longer be the majority by 2044. What could this mean for your message? Your writing style? The stories you tell? I think it could mean a lot and I think these are things worth considering as we move into planning for 2018 and beyond.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic in the comments. What is your non-profit doing to make your fundraising program more equitable? How will you address changing demographics?