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New Report on Philanthropists of Color: Racism Still Affects Millionaire Black Donors

Money can’t shield people from racism. A new report found that millionaire philanthropists say they often have to deal with racism in the world of philanthropy.

A new qualitative study of 113 millionaires of color found that nearly all had experienced racial or ethnic bias. The study was released by the Donors of Color Network, a membership organization for wealthy philanthropists from marginalized backgrounds, along with two consulting companies, Radiant Strategies and the Vaid Group.

Philanthropists
Billionaire businessman and philanthropist Robert F. Smith poses in front of the “Robert Frederick Smith Family Corona Pavilion” of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. (Photo from https://robertsmith.com/)

“It’s so obvious, but it’s also very profound,” report co-author Hali Lee, founding partner at Radiant Strategies and a co-founder of the Donors of Color Network, told Yahoo.

The study interviewed donors of color who had $1 million or more in cash on hand. This gave researchers a “qualitative snapshot” rather than a representative sample.

“People of color who are givers are bringing a different set of priorities to the table from their own life experience,” says report co-author Urvashi Vaid, who co-founded the Donors of Color Network and is president of the Vaid Group.

Donors of Color is a community of high-net-worth donors with the goal of transforming social institutions to be more reflective and accountable to communities of color.

African-Americans, regardless of their economic status, are more charitable than other races. Black people are much more inclined to give back to the community compared to whites, according to research by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.  Black donors give away 25 percent more of their incomes than white donors, found the Kellogg Foundation.

“We have to change the perspective on how we think about Black giving and giving in communities of color,” Alandra Washington, the Kellogg Foundation’s vice president for transformation and organizational effectiveness, told The Washington Post. “We know from historical context that Black communities have been givers from the time of slavery to reconstruction to where we are now.”

And, Black people when they give, even high dollar amounts, they are must contend with racism from philanthropy circles. Most often when they attend fundraisers and charity events, they are the one of a few Black faces. And, they complained to Donors of Color, they don’t usually feel welcome.

The interviews with high-net-worth philanthropists of color in the new report, the co-authors said, draw a straight line from the donors’ personal experiences — completing higher education, experiencing racism, and grappling with economic inequality — to their philanthropic priorities, AP News reported.

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