A growing number of non-profit organizations are looking for ways to reach out to diaspora that supports causes in their own ethnic group in the country they have adopted or in their country of origin as part of their expansion of their donor base.
Any discussion on national identity and origin often causes heated debates. In the case of ‘diaspora’, an ongoing debate rages about the definition and the usage of the word while describing people living outside their country of origin. In this article ‘diaspora’ means the immigrants, expatriates, first and second generation members, other non-resident groups and those with strong ties to certain ethnic community.
In spite of a plethora of research on their philanthropy, including the trends and patterns, a concerted study of right techniques that are helpful for successful fundraising from the communities is quite limited. In this article, one technique – giving circles – has been discussed that have increased their philanthropically impact among donor files and diaspora communities.
Organizations that work internationally and seek to increase donations for diaspora often resort to communicating program activities and its impact in the donor’s country or community of origin as part of establishing connections. There exist enormous needs within immigrant communities that are mostly undeserved and overlooked by the traditional channels of fundraising. However, the first and second generation immigrants are increasingly reaching out as part of their response to support organizations that work for the undeserved members belonging to their own communities.
The circle comprises of groups of individuals that work to pool financial resources and together decide how and where the money needs to be donated. Typically, it is targeted in the city of origin of the circle.
The difference between Circles and Hometown Associations lies in that the projects in the donor’s community are supported by circles while it is the donor’s community and / or the home community or country of origin where projects are supported by hometown associations.
The last 10 years have seen an increased popularity of Circles’ activities all across the United States. According to sources, an estimated 800 circles exist in the United States that is becoming popular among the Asian communities as well. In spite of differences of the composition of circles, these circles have some characteristics in common:
· Education of members about issues affecting their local ethnic communities and programs dealing with the needs.
· Providing opportunities to network and socializing with others.
· Pooling of money, time and / or contributions by members and deciding how and where the money will be allocated. While collected funds are granted by some groups throughout the year, others build up endowments.
· Circle members may opt as a donor-advised fund with community trust or being managed by foundation.
· The circles of Asian American are a mix of different ages and backgrounds, but members are mostly well-educated, urban, professional and young. They are often immigrants of first or second generation.
· Group sizes could range from a few members to over 100.
There are many non-profit organizations that approach circles to seek support. Others are working with members existing in their service area and organize their own circles.