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An Indispensable Resource for Nonprofit Leaders and Fundraisers

At a time when nonprofit leaders find themselves in an increasingly diverse philanthropic environment, understanding how to harness the power of cultural diversity is essential. This resource, useful for nonprofit leaders and volunteers, fundraisers, and all who are interested in the effects of culture on our actions, especially in generosity, contains:

  • Guest columns from experts in culture and philanthropy.
  • Real-life examples from representatives of those cultures.
  • Current information items from various sources which keep knowledge on this topic up to date.
  • Input by professionals and practitioners from diverse populations and countries of origin.
  • Suggestions for the culturally-proficient professional, particularly in fundraising.
  • Plus information on the book, Diversity and Philanthropy:  Expanding the Circles of Giving, on which this website is based.

“Don’t Let the Love Die”

The Wondrous Gift of Many Faces

By William G. Enright, PhD.

Duke article pic of Bill

Some years ago a report titled Donors of the Future – 12 Key Trends identified “racial and ethnic diversity” as the number one trend reshaping the giving landscape.[i]The prescience of that finding slapped me in the face three years ago when teaching a course on Faith & Fundraising at Fuller Theological Seminary, an institution known for the cultural diversity of its student body. Ten different cultures and ethnicities were present in the classroom. By the end of the first day my teaching colleague and I realized that our primary assignment was to step back to listen and learn from our students.

Christian congregations are becoming more culturally and ethnically diverse. If a ministry is to be effective it is imperative that clergy also take the time to listen and learn from the new faces sitting in their pews. Cross-cultural giving is a gift to be celebrated when it informs, enhances and enriches the mission and vision of a congregation. This we now know; minorities and people of color are generous in their giving. Savvy pastors are waking up to the reality that to be effective church-based “fundraising must take place with cultural consciousness in mind.[ii]

What did I learn from my students? Fundraising principles must be contextualized to mirror the values and giving practices of the donor’s culture. A young Chinese woman discovered that if her fundraising project was to be successful it must first be endorsed by the esteemed older members in her congregation. An Anglo priest learned to respect the fact that the giving priority of his Latino parishioners was sending money back to their home country. A young Hispanic pastor learned to embrace his congregations three-generation old idea of fundraising by climbing into the boxing ring placed in the church courtyard once a year to joyfully raise money for the congregation’s programs.  A Taiwanese student with a vision for a new mission program recognized that it was the pastor of his home congregation in Taiwan who had singular authority to approve his vision. A Kenyan student keen on raising money to pay for his seminary education discovered and reclaimed the Kenyan practice ofHarambee, a Swahili fundraising term meaning “all pull together.” Harambee’s are events, institutional or personal, whereby money is raised for weddings, funerals, school tuition, health expenses and church projects.

Cultural understandings shape both how and why people give. Hispanic giving is more informal and familial.  It is also action and service oriented as it is viewed as a way to give back. African Americans give to benefit people and families they know as via their giving they support those institutions and organizations that address their particular needs, with religion a dynamic and motivating presence. Asian Americans giving is as varied as the nations and cultures they represent: Japanese Americans have an interest in civil liberties and civil rights; Chinese Americans focus on their cultural heritage; Filipino-Americans send money back to their country of origin.[iii]  For Asian Americans giving is personal and a way of sharing; sharing with family, friends and the social networks to which they belong.

In her recent book Diversity and Philanthropy– an informative resource I recommend – my friend and former colleague Lilya Wagner writes: “As nonprofits experience an increased demand to adjust their fundamental practices to   accommodate the cultural styles, norms and preferences of the cultures wherein they operate, they find that diversity extends farther than had been envisioned. [They find themselves] talking about things like value systems, language, geographic experiences, working styles, thinking styles, educational background, religious faith.[iv]

To take the time to listen and learn from the myriad of faces and cultures sitting in our pews is a call to embrace the practice of pastoral care with new intentionality. To paraphrase Saint Paul in his farewell address to the leaders of the Church in ancient Ephesus: Be on your toes, alert and sensitive to the wondrous gift of the many faces the Holy Spirit has given to you as guardian. God’s people they are; guard and protect them.”[v]  

[i]Millennium Communications Group, Inc. Donors of the Future Scan—12 Key Trends and What They Mean for the New Giving Landscape, March, 2006. This Study was commissioned by New Ventures in Philanthropy, Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, The Council on Foundations.

[ii]Lilya Wagner, Diversity and Philanthropy: Expanding the Circle of Giving,  p.2. Praeger, 2016.

[iii]Giving USA Foundation, Giving USA Spotlight,Issue 2, 2011.

[iv]Lilya Wagner, p. 4.

[v]Acts 20:28


Wm G. Enright, Ph.D., is the Emeritus Founding Executive Director of the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving at the Lilly School of Philanthropy at Indiana University (2004-2015), and former Senior Pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church (1981-2004), Indianapolis.  He is a graduate of Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California and McCormick Theological Seminary, Chicago, Illinois. His Ph.D. is from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. He also holds four honorary degrees: Doctor of Divinity degrees from Hanover College, Hanover, Indiana and Dubuque Theological Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa. Doctor of Humane Letters degrees from Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana and Anderson University, Anderson, Indiana. In 2016 he received the Visionary Leadership Award from McCormick Theological Seminary. Dr. Enright is currently a director of the Lilly Endowment, Inc, and a life trustee of Hanover College. He is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of the Foundation of the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis and a past President of the Board of Directors of the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis. He is a former “Advisor for the National Cathedral Association” of the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. He is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Inter-Faith Youth Corp, an international organization committed to bringing young people together from different religious faith traditions for dialogue then engaging them in service projects around the world. His civic involvement in Indianapolis has included serving as co-chair of the Mayor’s Taskforce on Racism, member of Envisioning Indianapolis, the Police Advisory Board, the Board of Directors of the Central Indiana Council On Aging, The Wishard Hospital Foundation Board and the St. Vincent Hospital Advisory Board.  He is co-founder of the Celebration of Hope, a program for racial reconciliation, which was recognized by President Clinton as one of ten national programs to be honored at the White House. He has also been honored by two governors with a Sagamore of the Wabash. He has authored several books, the latest being Kitchen Table Giving: Reimagining How Congregations Connect with Their Donors.    He has  lectured at numerous colleges, universities and theological institutions as well as for business associations such as The Young Presidents and World Presidents organizations. In July, 2005, he served as “preacher and chaplain” for the Chautauqua Institution in New York.

New and Current Resources

 “Ethics Australia” by Rob Edwards appeared in the Fall 2017 issue of Advancing Philanthropy,

In the November, 2015 issue of The Chronicle of Philanthropy, an article explained how education spurs Hispanic giving.  It’s good to add this to the list of motivations for giving by Hispanic population groups.

Of related interest is an article in The Economist, May 6, 2017, on aid and the private sector—“Doing Good, Doing Well.”

Questions or comments, write to:

Featured Expert

Janice Becca Da Silva currently serves as the Director of Development for SCO Family of Services, one of New York’s largest human services agencies serving 60,000 vulnerable New Yorkers each year.  In her current role, she oversees fund development for SCO’s 80+ programs across New York City and Long Island. Janice also serves as Co-Chair for SCO’s Committee Advocating Racial Equity (C.A.R.E.).

Janice is a native New Yorker with roots in Austin, Texas where she grew up. She completed her studies at the University of Houston Law Center and was subsequently admitted to the State Bar of Texas where she maintained her private practice. Janice transitioned into the nonprofit sector in 2013 and served as Associate Director of Planned Giving and Development for the Greater New York Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. She is a certified Future Search facilitator and skilled in leading change initiatives to help organizations identify and improve mission-focused opportunities.

In her spare time, Janice enjoys writing, quality time with friends, and random adventures with her husband Dwight.


This website is based on:

Diversity and Philanthropy: Expanding the Circle of Giving

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