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Donors of color in philanthropy are a potentially transformative force at a historic moment in which their voices and impact are desperately needed. The Donors of Color Project seeks to network and engage specifically High Net Worth (HNW) donors of color to build community and create change together.

Over the last two years, the Donors of Color Project team has engaged in a landscape analysis and 112 interviews with high net worth (HNW) donors of color in ten cities across the United States. We have learned that these donors care deeply about equity and disparity issues, are mostly not networked with other HNW donors, and are mostly not networked with each other. These donors have personally experienced discrimination or bias based on the color of their skin, their immigration, or their accent. Most directly talk about racial disparity and the racial wealth gap. Eighty percent of the folks we interviewed are wealth earners and wealth creators. Most are keenly interested in doing impactful, strategic philanthropy, and a great majority are hungry to be in community with others like them.

The Donors of Color project has identified amazing donor leaders among our interviewees and we are now working together to create a new national network of HNW Donors of Color. We launched the Network at an inaugural gathering in early 2019. There, we convened fifty or so HNW donors of color to build joyful community, engage with content experts and together with the donors, began to co-create this community together.

It is our hope that 2019 will see the launch of a joyful, powerful Donors of Color Network, which will be in community with other donor networks, change the face of philanthropy, and ultimately, move many more thoughtful dollars towards equity and justice movements. If you would like more information, please go to the Donors of Color Network website here.

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The Apparitional Donor: Understanding and Engaging High Net Worth Donors of Color.  This original landscape analysis looks at the giving patterns and priorities of high net worth (HNW) people of color.  It summarizes information from interviews, shares insights gathered from a meta analysis of research, and outlines a set of recommendations.

The report was made possible with support from Marguerite Casey Foundation, Open Society Foundations, Ford Foundation, Arcus Foundation, the New York Women's Foundation and the Advancement Project.

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Report Summary

The report found that although the priorities, interests and experiences of HNW donors of color are largely invisible in discussions of mainstream philanthropy, HNW people of color (POC) number over 1 million people.  HNW donors of color are largely engaged in building their wealth, are philanthropically engaged, and very generous.

Yet, the report finds these donors remain isolated from each other, are not present within existing donor networks of HNW individuals, and that the funding these donors provide remains less widely known even to organizations in the fields of work in which they are giving.

The report argues that absence of HNW donors of color as an organized force in philanthropy has material consequences. It renders critical experiences, resources and talent missing at a moment in which our society requires new ideas, investment and innovation.  We ask the question: “How can we better network high net worth donors of color to fund social change strategies- including resistance, protection, and empowerment- at a time when the need is so great?”

The Authors

Urvashi Vaid

Urvashi Vaid is founder and CEO of The Vaid Group LLC, a social innovation firm working for equity and justice.  Vaid has held leadership roles in philanthropic, advocacy, community, and academic organizations, including:  Executive Director, Arcus Foundation; Deputy Director, Governance and Civil Society Unit, Ford Foundation; Senior Fellow, Center for Gender & Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School; Executive Director, National LGBTQ Task Force; Staff Attorney, National Prison Project, ACLU, and Board member, Gill Foundation.   Vaid is author of Irresistible Revolution: Confronting Race, Class and The Assumptions of LGBT Politics (2012); Virtual Equality: The Mainstreaming of Gay and Lesbian Liberation (1996); co-author of A Roadmap for Change:  Public Policy Recommendations Addressing the Criminalization of LGBT People and People Living with HIV (2013); and co-editor of an anthology titled Creating Change: Public Policy, Sexuality and Civil Rights (2000).  She is Chair of the National Board of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and serves on the Boards of the Roadwork Center for Culture in Disputed Territories, and LPAC.  Vaid is a graduate of Vassar College and Northeastern University School of Law.

Ashindi Maxton

Ashindi Maxton is an independent strategist and donor advisor in democracy reform and racial justice. She has developed funding strategy informing more than $100 million in investments from some of the largest foundations and individual donors in the United States including the Democracy Alliance, the Ford Foundation, The Women Donors Network, PowerPAC, and the Sandler Foundation. Maxton has served as the National Policy Director of the NAACP and the National Director of Political Partnerships for SEIU, the largest labor union in the United States. She was a Fulbright Scholar to the Dominican Republic where she published the first national study on race consciousness in Dominican children. Maxton has been listed three times to Washington Magazine’s “Young and the Guest List” of “forty and under geniuses, visionaries, crusaders and innovators shaping Washington’s future” in addition to the “NAACP Power 40” list of most influential African-Americans under forty. She serves on the c3 board of the Texas Organizing Project and recently completed three years as Board Chair of Free Speech TV.  Ashindi has an International Baccalaureate degree from the United World College of the American West in New Mexico. She graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Vassar College with a degree in Africana Studies and later received a Masters in Public Policy from the University of California, Berkeley.

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