Step by step
In her article, “Hopscotching in the Neighborhood,” also appearing in Rooney and Sherman’s book, Alice Green Burnette warns about the pitfalls of skipping steps when trying to raise money in the black community. Some key things to remember, Burnette says, include:
- Understand that society is changing. The black population is expected to grow from 36 million in 2000 to 61 million by 2050, representing 14.6 percent of the total population (U.S. Bureau of the Census). As a segment it already is being targeted by companies promoting products and services. Nonprofits should react and catch on to this shift.
- Progressive messaging raises more money. Burnette says nonprofits used to gain support in the black community on the basis of need and mere existence, but this message is no longer sufficient, especially in the increasingly competitive nonprofit field.
- Donor focus. Fundraisers who focus on the needs and interests of prospects will have more success than those who focus on the organization’s needs.
- Recognize history. Gain a better understanding of black prospects’ life experiences. Exclusion and deception, and resulting trust issues, and issues like incarceration, poverty and addiction that often pervade minority neighborhoods are part of the black life experience.
Some other characteristics to keep in mind include findings from the “Wealth Transfer Estimates Among African-American Households” report that show black households are less likely to be headed by a married couple; heads of households tend to be younger; less than half own a home; and only 3 percent own one or more businesses.
Schervish and Havens, authors of the “Wealth Transfer Estimates” report, suggest the following strategies for nonprofits seeking to increase charitable giving among black households:
- Target black households of celebrities, athletes and business owners to increase the visibility of giving and inspire giving among others.
- Come up with a long-term strategy for cultivating young black professionals and business owners who are on the road to wealth.