Be authentic in engaging with BAME communities, fundraisers told

31 Jul 2020 News

Fundraisers should engage with BAME communities in an authentic way, and not just to chase income, fundraisers heard on Wednesday.

Umar Malik, who works on communities and events with BAME communities for Barnardo’s, spoke at Fundraising Everywhere’s BAME Online conference in a session about the myths of fundraising with BAME communities.

‘Organisations need to ask themselves some honest questions’

He said that while there is increasing awareness in the sector that minority communities do give and can be a valuable audience for fundraising, organisations need to learn to work with them in the right way and for the right reasons.

He said: “Organisations need to ask themselves some honest questions and set the scene from the beginning as to why they're actually engaging BAME communities now. 

“Are we approaching BAME communities to chase income, and therefore doing whatever we can to get that income? Or are we chasing BAME communities because we have a role and responsibility to ensure that we understand the specific challenges that are facing BAME children and young people? 

“Are we are utilising all of the resources and stakeholders available to us – internal and external, staff networks, EDI networks, supporters, beneficiaries – to really start the conversation and honestly approach BAME communities and have more long-term impact in engaging them?”

He also said that if the engagement is not authentic, it is less likely to be effective: “If your starting point is that engaging BAME communities is the right thing to do, then it will be more genuine, it will be more value-driven, and it will be more community and beneficiary-led, which will result in better outcomes for your diverse beneficiaries, which will result in better income.

“If you're chasing the income, you'll be figured out by BAME communities.”

Immersing in BAME donors’ culture

Panellists also discussed whether you need a person of colour to authentically engage with communities of colour in fundraising.

Kevin Amponsah, philanthropy officer at The Children's Society, said that while being a person of colour “does massively help” because donors find it easier to relate with someone who shares their experiences and cultural values, it is not strictly necessary.

He said: “I'd like to think that somebody [a white fundraiser] would be able to do the due diligence and actually take the care and the time to be able to immerse themselves in the BAME donors’ causes, in their interests.

“That would inevitably increase their understanding of their needs and wants. And also taking the time to actually visit the communities, to study the actual culture, and anything you feel like you don't know in relation to the communities that you're looking to represent. I think that would go down incredibly well with your BAME donors.

“I don't think you need to be a person of colour to build authentic relationships as long as you have the ethos and the values and you actively go above and beyond to understand what they really need.”

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