Saturday, September 17, 2011

Giving by African American Women

Michele Minter
I interviewed Michele Minter, formerly with Princeton University and now vice president for development at the College Board for our book, Women and Philanthropy: Boldly Shaping a Better World, and she had some very interesting observations about giving by women of color, in particular, African American women.

Minter pointed out that women are not a homogeneous group.  "Although the strength of race and gender affiliation in philanthropy has not been studied systematically, anecdotally there is evidence that African American women are more likely to identify first as black, and then as a woman.  This is important because words have different meanings within different cultural traditions."

For instance, Minter says that the word philanthropy is not used as much in black church traditions as the word stewardship.

She also states that a stumbling block for black women's giving is that nonprofit communication materials often lack images and vocabulary that help people of color see themselves presented, making it difficult for them to identify with the cause.

And finally, Minter discusses how racial and ethnic communities have rich traditions of social structures and networks that nonprofit leaders often fail to recognize.  "If organizations want to engage black women, they should recognize the power of churches, sororities, and civil rights organizations as partners that have credibility with their potential donors," Minter says.

Keeping all these important points in mind are critical to increasing diversity in women's giving.

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