WHY DOES DIVERSITY IN FUNDRAISING MATTER?
According to our respondents, because:
- Fundraising is where the narrative of organizations is shaped – development professionals create the language that describes the problems, solutions and visions for change.
- Fundraising manages the external relationships of nonprofits – development professionals are entrusted with representing their institutions to individuals with the ability to make a game changing difference in their constituents’ future.
- Fundraising is the nexus where money comes into the organization – carrying with it the power to bestow resources and enable programming.
- Donors of color are a rising philanthropic asset for the nonprofit sector – and seem especially responsive to being approached by fundraisers of color.
Fundraisers of color identified the following themes throughout their careers:
- Establishing a career in fundraising means entering into white dominated spaces.
- Fundraising is a field in which donors, board members, and executive directors’ comfort with the fundraising relationship is essential for success; when people of color are viewed (consciously or subconsciously) as outsiders it is harder for them to bring in the expected resources.
- The very fabric of fundraising deals with discomfort, rejection, and often unrealistic expectations and inserting a racial component adds an extra hurdle to an already charged interaction.
- The nature of fundraising changes as one advances in the field, from tactics oriented to relationship based, which opens up more exposure to racially tinged interactions within a development professional of color’s career trajectory.
- The competency of fundraisers of color is questioned while white fundraisers are assumed to be proficient.
- Belittlement happens as a matter of course in dealing with donors, board members, and, in some positions, executive staff.
- Internal support, particularly at the executive leadership level, is key to individual professional success.
- Fundraisers of color who do navigate the racial barriers find development to be a very rewarding way to contribute to social change.
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