Asian Prospects Require a Highly Personal Touch
In her in-depth report “Asian-American Philanthropy: Expanding Circles of Participation,” published as a chapter in the book “Cultures of Caring: Philanthropy in Diverse American Communities,” Jessica Chao, vice president at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, looks at philanthropic trends within the Asian-American community. Chao explains that Asian-American philanthropy is not one size fits all. The types of philanthropy are as diverse as the population itself, influenced by social adaptation, economics and various levels of acculturation. Asian Americans give informally to close family and social circles and more formally to alumni and professional associations, doing so out of a sense of duty and obligation to the family, community and society.
The causes that Chao cites as receiving the most frequent and lucrative support from the Asian-American community are education; nursing homes and elder-care services; youth services; immigration services; cultural institutions; cultural heritage programs; and civil-rights causes. Financial contributions almost always come from this donor segment after they’ve invested time through volunteering on boards, advisory councils and gala committees, Chao says.
While there are shared characteristics among all Asian-American donors, there are some differences. For one thing, Chao says Japanese Americans tend to be more focused on civil rights, civil liberties and political representation; Filipino Americans mostly give to the Philippines; and Chinese-American donors, while giving to a wide variety of missions, are strong supporters of cultural heritage. Acculturation also plays a role in the types of causes these donors give to. More Americanized Asian Americans give to formal nonprofit organizations in the United States and pan-Asian charities, while those less acculturated tend to give to their family, friends and charities in their home country.
Second- and third-generation Asian-American donors are strong supporters of social justice and civil rights causes and are more likely to see philanthropy as a tool for civic and political involvement than first-generation donors.
They key to creating fundraising efforts that resonate with this donor base is a personal touch, Chao writes. To achieve this, she recommends:
1) The ask be delivered by a well-respected friend, business associate or family member.
2) Building a connection with individuals and getting them involved with the organization before making the ask.
3) Acknowledging contributions and gifts and personalizing these acknowledgements to reflect the level of the gift.
4) Universities and museums offer a family gift option, as well as the ability to name gifts in memory of a deceased family member.
5) Holding events. Filipino-American donors, Chao says, enjoy events and social gatherings such as dinner dances. Likewise, golf tournaments and ethnic holiday celebrations are popular with second- and third-generation Japanese Americans and Chinese Americans. It can be an effective way to introduce these individuals to an organization. Sending out personal invitations to such events is a must, she adds.
Aside from adding a personal touch to prospect interaction, Chao says organizations looking to stimulate philanthropic involvement among Asian Americans should increase the presence and participation of socially connected Asian Americans on their own boards and staff, and collaborate with Asian-American nonprofits that are trusted within the community.
To read the full version of this report, visit www.cof.org/files/Documents/Publications/Cultures_of_Caring/asianamerican.pdf