'Demographics Are Destiny'
It's no secret that we're undergoing a huge demographic shift in the United States. The Census Bureau estimates that by 2050 we will be a "majority- minority" nation. In fact, in four states — California, New Mexico, Texas and Hawaii — people of color already comprise the majority of the population. And, the percentage of non-Hispanic white residents has fallen below 60 percent in Maryland, Georgia, Nevada, Arizona, New York and Mississippi.
If, as many experts have said, "demographics are destiny," then the changing landscape of the U.S. has profound implications for fundraisers and marketers. For example …
● We might need new human-resources policies and processes in place to recruit and retain major-gift officers from diverse backgrounds.
● We might need to start translating our collaterals into Spanish.
● We might need to use different technologies, like mobile and text messaging, to reach more Latinos and African-Americans.
● We might need to determine the race and ethnicity of the donors already on our files.
But before we get too tactical, let's look at the strategic imperative before us.
Here are my five reasons why you should start thinking about diversifying your fundraising, by race and ethnicity — now!
1. Get a leg up on the competition
Think about it. If other charities in your geographic or issue area are not actively reaching out to diverse communities, you will gain a competitive advantage by taking the lead. Just as for-profit marketers scrambled to connect with the "women's market" 10 years ago, savvy charities that reach out to diverse donors now will reap the rewards.
2. Enhance and differentiate your nonprofit
It might sound manipulative, but connecting with diverse audiences could actually enhance your image with current and prospective clients, donors and employees. This can help you stand out from the other charitable organizations in your space. Many people want to be part of multicultural organizations and coalitions that are intentionally stretching their boundaries. It signals a willingness to be inclusive and open.
3. Attract diverse employees
It's hard to say which comes first — minority donors or minority employees. The fact is that they might attract each other. In other words, recruiting and retaining minority candidates to your organization might be easier if you first make it a strategic priority to diversify your funding base. That said, don't expect to reach hundreds of new Latino, African-American or Asian-American donors via one well-appointed minority hire. A real commitment to diversity will require you to make other institutional changes as well, like diversifying your board and changing your communications and outreach activities.
4. Improve your programs
In our connected age, donors are not just ATMs. Many also expect to contribute to a nonprofit's programmatic success. Donors from different communities and with diverse experiences can help you improve your programs. They also can give you marketing leverage to recruit new members, clients and participants.
5. Raise more revenue
Finally, and perhaps most important, is the fact that attracting diverse donors will help you raise more money! Do the math; it's clear that there are pockets of wealth in minority communities. For example, according to the Census Bureau, minorities owned 5.8 million nonfarm U.S. businesses in 2007, an increase of 45.6 percent from 2002. This compares to an increase of 13 percent in white-owned businesses during the same time period. Don't you want some of this cash?
Again, if demographics are destiny, the changing U.S. landscape means that the majority of our population will be people of color in 30 to 40 years. Instead of reacting to these demographic changes, why not be a "first-mover" and capitalize on this trend now? It will enhance your brand, help you achieve greater programmatic success and build your bottom line. FS