Anh Ton wrote a very informative article for IdEA (International Diaspora Engagement Alliance), Four Ways to Improve Your Diaspora Organization's Fundraising Strategy. She encourages fundraisers to re-frame their question of “How do we get the diaspora to give?” to “How do we prove that we’re worth your investment?” Below is an excerpt of the four principles her organization, VNHELP follows in engaging the Vietnamese-American community in philanthropy. While the article is focused on engaging diaspora donors, I think any organization that is working with donors can easily apply these principles to their fundraising strategy.
1. Relate: Everything starts with relationship building. With diaspora donors, relationships are particularly important because these individuals tend to be accustomed to one-on-one connections rather than institutional support. As a fundraiser, you have to learn how to make the institutional personal. You’ve got to earn their trust and prove that your organization’s mission is in line with a prospective donor’s personal values. Remind them that it’s not about a donor writing a check to an organization; it’s about like-minded people combining resources to create positive change.
2. Educate: Once you’ve built a solid relationship with a donor or potential donor, begin to educate them. We don’t mean pulling out the pen and projector to go over organizational history or proposal writing cycles (although both are certainly conversations you should eventually have); we mean helping donors understand the role of organizations in charity and social development. Remind donors that you’re not just an intermediary; you’re providing value-added services like donor reporting, scheduling site visits, tax benefits and ensuring fiduciary responsibility—services that informal or peer-to-peer giving mechanisms might not be able to provide. And most importantly, show new donors how collective action through organizations can create sustainable impact beyond a single charity project.
3. Assure: Finally, assurance, which is really just another part of relationship-building. If philanthropy through institutional giving is still new to a donor, keep them updated, let them know what’s going on and let them get involved in the organization whenever possible. Never close the door just because you’ve received the contribution.
4. Engage the Next Generation: For American-born diaspora members, the engagement process is similar, but crafting the message may be a little different. Most young Asian-Americans make charitable contributions, but many do see philanthropy as a way of connecting with their cultural roots.