Giving Black in Los Angeles: Donor Profiles and Opportunities for the Future

November 20, 2012

By Nike Irvin

The Liberty Hill Foundation has released Giving Black in Los Angeles: Donor Profiles and Opportunities for the Future, a comprehensive study of the motivation and giving habits of African Americans in Los Angeles.

Building on Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Eugene Robinson’s finding in his book Disintegration that Black America is actually made up of five distinct population groups, the study explores the giving behaviors of each group and identifies demographic trends and influencers as well as three donor profiles.

Among the key demographic findings of the study is that Los Angeles County has almost double the percentage of Blacks with household incomes of $100,000 or more, unemployment for Black Americans is typically double that of white and Asian unemployment rates, 14.8% of Black Angelenos are immigrants  from either Sub-Saharan Africa or the West Indies and the number of multi-racial blacks continues to grow.

When respondents were asked about their annual discretionary income allocation, the most common response was to allocate funds across two or more of the following: Church, political campaigns, social service agencies, family and friends, social justice/advocacy organizations with some respondents allocating funds to all five.

The following donor descriptions emerged from the study: The ‘Building the Black Community Donor’ who want their donations to go to organizations that target African American recipients, the ‘Issue Impact Donor’ who are more concerned that their donations go towards the issues they care about versus the identity of the people affected by the issue and the ‘Hardwired to Give Donor’ who tend to give across the board versus zeroing in on a particular issue or population.

Moving forward the study results suggest that there is an opportunity to focus the lens of African American giving on social justice issues and community organizing. Educating donors to elevate the value of strategic investment models as well as understanding emerging millennial donors as a part of the whole will be crucial to creating deeper philanthropic impact. Equally important will be to use philanthropy as a means to promote a Black-specific agenda that is centered on a new narrative of fairness and thrives on a structure of collaboration. Lastly the study encourages a stronger bond, based on communication and solidarity, between the Black churches and leaders in social justice philanthropy in order to bridge gaps between younger and older generations of givers.

To read the study, please click here:

Nike Irvin is vice president of programs at California Community Foundation

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