Press Release: Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society Unveils First In-Depth Study of African-American, Asian-American and Latino Donors in New York Region

Study Finds that Donors in these Communities Exhibit High Levels of Giving and that Giving Priorities Vary More Along Generational than Ethnic Lines

A groundbreaking new study has found that charitable giving levels among African-American, Asian-American and Latino donors interviewed in the New York metropolitan region were higher, with an overall average (median) of $5,000, than the national averages for households that give but do not volunteer ($1,620) as well as for households that practice both ($2,295)1. In addition, while there were differences in giving across ethnic lines, the most substantial differences were between older and younger generations -- those born before and after the enactment of the Civil Rights legislation and immigration reforms in the mid-1960s. The study was conducted by the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society at The Graduate Center of The City University of New York in partnership with the Coalition for New Philanthropy, an initiative to advance philanthropy in communities of color.

The study, Pathways for Change: Philanthropy among African American, Latino, and Asian American Donors in the New York Metropolitan Region is the first of its kind in New York. The study was undertaken to create a better understanding of philanthropy among donors of color as these communities grow in size and -- due to increased educational, professional and financial success -- in wealth and assets.

"We are excited by the findings of this study, which not only underscore the strong current of philanthropy that the Coalition has uncovered through its work in these communities, but demonstrates that donors of color have specific motivations and needs that require different approaches," said Erica Hunt, Co-Chair of the Coalition and Executive Director of The Twenty-First Century Foundation, which is a partner in the Coalition along with the CPCS, the Asian American Federation of New York, the Hispanic Federation and the New York Regional Association of Grantmakers. "The study will be a great help to us in our outreach activities, enabling us to provide valuable advice to donor and nonprofit organizations as we unroll our programs nationwide."

The study was conducted in 2002 and 2003 with 166 African-American, Asian-American and Latino donors in the New York metropolitan region. Approximately half of the interviewees were male and half were female, with approximately one-third below the age of 40 and two-thirds 40 and above. The interviews were designed to learn from donors about the amounts and time contributed; the types of recipient organizations; the motivation and intentions for giving; the decision-making processes; and the ways nonprofit organizations can more effectively partner with donors.

"By conducting a focused number of in-depth interviews with donors of color, we were able to create a more nuanced picture of philanthropic landscape in these communities," said Dr. Eugene Miller, Assistant Director of the CPCS and a co-director of the study. "These findings have wide-ranging implications for nonprofits, as donors of color are a rapidly growing source of philanthropy in the United States, but are too often overlooked by the broader philanthropic field."

Study Highlights
Among the study's key findings:

  • Donors in Communities of Color Are Generous:Among the donors interviewed, total household giving in the year preceding the interview ranged from $200 to $1 million, with a median level of giving of $5,000. Approximately 11.5% of those interviewed gave $10,000 or more to a single organization, while the types of organizations receiving higher-level gifts did not differ from those receiving smaller gifts. Most often funds were kept in the donor's ethnic community or went to mainstream organizations for programs targeted to advance minority interests.
  • Generational Differences are Important: While there were some differences across ethnic lines (African Americans gave more to churches, Latinos to community-based organizations, and Asian Americans to Asian cultural institutions), the most substantial differences were between the generations born before and after the enactment of Civil Rights legislation and immigration reform in the mid-1960s. While older generations (40 and over) align themselves with organizations that impact their respective ethnic community, younger generations have a broader, less racially and ethnically circumscribed view of community. These younger donors target their support toward organizations that benefit economically and socially disadvantaged individuals irregardless of race, and favor nonprofit organizations that provide educational training and that adhere to effective business models of operations (professionalism, transparency and accountability are important factors).
  • "The differences in giving across generational lines have important implications for the future of philanthropy," said Felinda Mottino, Senior Research Fellow at the CPCS and co-director of the study. "The focus on supporting organizations that follow proven business models and that have a more ethnically inclusive view of community -- especially in terms of access to education -- are important factors for nonprofit organizations to consider as this younger generation plays a more active role in philanthropy."
  • International Interest is High: While for all donors in the study the primary focus of giving was domestic or local programs or organizations, 13% gave one of their two largest gifts to an international or bi-national programs or organizations, as compared to the national average for international affairs of 2.2% as recorded in Giving USA 2004. Remittances, crises or disaster relief donations did not figure prominently in these gifts, which focused instead on education and job training programs.
  • Giving is Motivated by the Desire to Affect Social Change, with a Focus on Education and a Decline in Political Giving: Whatever the specific or underlying motivation, donors young and old, and across racial and ethnic lines, all expressed a strong desire to affect fundamental social change. Educational programs and organizations (along with community organizations and churches) are the key recipients of philanthropy by donors of color, with many identifying education as a primary tool for affecting social change. Many donations go to educational enrichment programs; when donations are made to mainstream educational organizations, they are usually earmarked for students of color and to provide access rather than institutional support. However, commitment to advancing social change did not translate into consistent financial support for political candidates and campaigns, and interest in politics appears to be declining. Some older donors expressed disillusionment with the political system, while younger donors expressed a preference for direct engagement and individual solutions to social problems. Economic empowerment is seen as key to having an impact: Young professionals see philanthropy as a way to create pathways for other people of color to enter financial services professions. They see economic empowerment and participation in the marketplace as the best way to impact the nation's economic, social, and political policies. Volunteering is Widespread: Donors of color also give of their time and talent, with more than 90% volunteering in the year preceding the interview, with the primary motivation mainly being to help to improve the lives of others. There is a large, untapped need for philanthropic advisement: Common among older and younger interviewees of all three ethnic groups is that they tend not to ask for advice regarding philanthropy, but said they would like to know more about organized giving.

    Study Participants

    The study used a combination of selection techniques to identify and interview donors of color--interviewees were drawn from organizational lists as well as referrals. Of the 166 donors we interviewed, 58 were African American, 53 Latino, and 55 Asian American. African Americans and Latinos were about half male and half female; Asian Americans were about 60% female. Ages of donors ranged from 23 to 94, and the three ethnic groups had similar proportions of younger and older interviewees (about one-third below the age of 40 and two-thirds 40 and above). More than half of the African Americans, older and younger, were born in the United States, as were more than half of the younger Asian Americans. About half of the older Asian Americans and all Latinos were born abroad. Younger donors overall were more likely to identify themselves as bi-racial or multi-ethnic. Study participants were well-educated and had relatively high incomes, surpassing census data averages for New York City. The midpoint was in the range from $100,000 to $149,000, with 70 percent of the donors reporting household incomes over $100,000. Most of the older donors hold senior positions in the nonprofit and government sectors, while most of the younger donors work in financial services and Wall Street firms.

    The Coalition for New Philanthropy

    The Coalition for New Philanthropy is a groundbreaking initiative to promote philanthropy in African-American, Asian-American and Latino communities throughout the metropolitan New York region. Partners in the Coalition include the Asian American Federation of New York, the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society at The Graduate Center of The City University of New York, the Hispanic Federation, the New York Regional Association of Grantmakers and The Twenty-First Century Foundation. Coalition activities include a variety of workshops and seminars for donors, prospective donors and professional advisors; evaluation and research studies that investigate giving patterns and trends among African-American, Latino and Asian-American communities in the metropolitan region; the development of curriculum materials and other products to help advance philanthropy on a national level; and the creation of new donor resources to foster the development of new philanthropic leaders from communities of color. For more information visit the Coalition's website at

    Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society

    The Graduate Center, The City University of New York
    The Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (CPCS) focuses on giving, voluntarism, and nonprofit entrepreneurship by individual donors, foundations, and corporations in the United States and around the world. Since its inception, CPCS has worked to highlight the philanthropic activities of different institutions and groups, with a particular emphasis on multiculturalism -- the patterns of giving and voluntarism by different religious, ethnic, racial, gender, and economic groups. As reflected in its partnership in the Coalition for New Philanthropy, CPCS is committed to strengthening civil society through education, research, and leadership training. For more information, visit Established in 1961, The Graduate Center is the doctorate-granting institution of The City University of New York. The Graduate Center has grown to an enrollment of about 3,900 students in 30 doctoral programs and six master's degree programs in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences. The Graduate Center also houses 28 research centers and institutes, and offers a wide range of continuing education and cultural programs of interest to the general public. For further information, visit

    Pathways for Change: Philanthropy among African American, Latino, and Asian American Donors in the New York Metropolitan Region was made possible through funding from New Ventures in Philanthropy: The Forum of Regional Grantmakers -- a founding supporter of the Coalition; The Ford Foundation and Carnegie Corporation of New York. The Coalition also receives support from AXA Foundation, Changemakers, Fund for the City of New York, Edwin Gould Foundation for Children, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Stewart R. Mott Charitable Trust, The New York Community Trust, The Philanthropic Collaborative, Inc. and Surdna Foundation.

Submitted on: OCT 1, 2004

Category: Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society | Press Room | Research Studies