Eight Key Principles for Diversifying Your Donor Base
The population of the U.S. is becoming more diverse, making it more and more imperative that nonprofits create messaging that's relevant to multicultural audiences to engage them as donors, volunteers and allies.
This was the focus of the session "Multicultural Resource Development: Effective Practices to Broaden Your Donor Base" at the 2009 Bridge Conference held just outside of Washington, D.C. last week. Presenters Randi Hogan, former vice president with the Metropolitan Group; Julia Howell Barros, chief development officer of CentroNia; Anna Lopez, executive director of corporate diversity for the American Red Cross; and Ivan Roman, executive director of the National Council of Hispanic Journalists shared tips on how to connect their missions to the values of individuals from various cultural backgrounds, and apply outreach and engagement strategies with diverse communities.
Hogan shared the following eight principles of multicultural resource development to help attendees looking to diversify their outreach:
Principle 1: Don’t make assumptions.
Begin with yourself. Get the facts. Examine programs that work with the cultural group you want to engage. Research racial, ethnic and tribal philanthropy groups to identify trends, challenges and opportunities. Test your assumptions, and check your ego at the door.
Principle 2: Understand the cultural context(s) of your prospects.
Do your homework. Define your target prospect groups as specifically as possible. Be aware of norms, traditions and other cultural nuances that are unique to your prospects. Identify and build on cultural strengths and assets.
Principle 3: Invest before you request.
Create "community-centered" partnerships. Treat leaders, organizations and community members as partners. Learn about a community's needs and assets, and stay in touch.
Principle 4: Develop authentic relationships.
Maintain a long-term perspective. Go to where your prospects are. Work with trusted allies, influencers and pathways. Don't become a one-hit wonder, getting what you need and never coming back. Become an ally.
Principle 5: Build shared ownership.
Engage, don't just involve. Make sure there are seats at the table. Establish input and decision-making structures and shared authority. Ensure that different perspectives and ideas are heard and incorporated.
Principle 6: Walk your talk.
Lead by example. Acknowledge the reality of your organization. Do what you say you believe others should do, and deliver on promises.
Principle 7: Relate, don't translate.
Place communication into cultural context. Determine if existing fundraising messages and materials work for the prospect group and whether they are based on cultural context. Relate the existing concept to the needs of your priority audience. Develop new creative. It's not just a matter of moving the copy you already use to another language. Your message might need to be different, as well. Establish clear translation protocols to ensure there aren't mistakes, and don't forget to implement.
Principle 8: Anticipate change.
Be prepared to succeed, Hogan stressed. Recognize that your process and approach to the work could change. Continue to build infrastructure to support multicultural success.