Asian-American Philanthropy: What you need to know as a fundraiser

Are you seeking funding for specific populations (ethnic, gender, geographic, economic, etc.)?

Trying to develop a spirit of philanthropy within a specific population?

This month’s Association of Fundraising Professionals luncheon for the San Diego Chapter focused on just this topic. “Diversity, Giving Circles and Foundation’s…Oh My!”, was held on Friday, January 11, 2013 at the Double Tree Hotel in Mission Valley. 
Levin Sy from Engage San Diego
moderated two panelists: Noelle Ito, Director of Community Philanthropy for Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP) and Sid Voorakkara, Ten Page Memo, LLC

. These three experts shared their perspectives on diversity within fundraising and San Diego’s growing Asian American community. This luncheon topic was timely, coming on the heels of the publication of the New York Times article on January 8, 2013: Asian-Americans Gain Influence in Philanthropy.

Did you miss January’s AFP San Diego Chapter Luncheon? Not to worry.  I’ve got the recap of the program right here for you.    

Levin set the stage by sharing population statistics for Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders:

  • 52% people of color in San Diego county
  • 63% people of color in Mira Mesa
  • 11% Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) population in San Diego
  • 14% Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) population in California
  • $28 billion is donated in California by foundations, the AAPI population receives 0.8% of this amount


“As funders and gift officers, we have the opportunity to tell the story of how our communities are growing and diversifying.

There is an opportunity to talk about it. And that is a big step.”

Sid shared his experience of funding diverse populations when he worked as a program officer for The California Endowment and how cultural competency programs are built and funded. This was particularly interesting to a room full of fundraisers who are often struggling to find funding for diverse and/or specific ethnic populations in San Diego. The key to getting the funders attention? Collaboration. Sid impressed upon the audience the benefit of nonprofits working together towards the same goal. He highlighted the GreenLining Institute and their national advocacy work to empower communities of color.

As a national membership organization for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Noelle and AAPIP raise awareness of the AAPI community and advocate for more funding to AAPI causes through cutting-edge campaigns, research reports and leveraging grassroots philanthropy.

“Our goal is to get to 1%.”

Noelle hopes one day to move the dial to see 1% of funds donated nationally to AAPI populations instead of the current .4%. One way she is working to increase this percentage is through AAPIP’s National Giving Circle Campaign that will increase AAPI giving circles across the nation. Noelle feels that the key to philanthropy within the AAPI population is education. Teaching individuals that they can make a big difference in their own community through pooling their money together via a giving circle. To-date, AAPIP has launched 23 giving circles including 1,200 giving circle members who have cumulatively given out $1.3 million.

We are grateful for the three speakers providing an invaluable insight into the Asian American Pacific Islander community, their philanthropy and attracting dollars towards diverse communities.

Interested in joining AFP? Check out the top 10 reasons to become a member here.

 Oh, and if you are wondering why I suddenly am posting about AFP? I am honored to announce I was asked to serve on the AFP San Diego Chapter Board of Directors.



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