Research highlights untapped potential of diaspora philanthropy


Maggie Coggan


Charities need to form stronger and ‘better relationships’ with multicultural diaspora groups, in order to unlock their philanthropic potential, a sector leader believes.

CEO of the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation (LMCF), Catherine Brown, spoke to Pro Bono News following a panel discussion on the foundation’s new report, which looked into the value and current issues surrounding Asian-Australian diaspora philanthropy.

The research outlined key findings, such as how there had been ‘little discussion’ to date among Asian-Australian donors on the ‘strategic impacts’ of their efforts, a ‘relatively’ high trust found in Australian organisations, and the ‘limited outreach’ by mainstream philanthropy and charity organisations to donors.

Brown said one of the main issues that arose during the panel discussion was how to gain the trust of these communities to get them involved in Australian charities and organisations.

‘There were suggestions [during the panel] and discussions around why there aren’t more culturally diverse boards and staff in these organisations, and that having more diverse and bilingual staff could really help build and foster those relationships,’ Brown said.

The report found diaspora communities were more likely to be influenced by cultural and religious factors when donating, and ‘collective and community’ events was a preferred method of fundraising.

Brown said it was important the sector made an effort to be seen by diverse communities.

‘I think all charities need to think about how they provide services to our diverse community’ she said.

Another key finding a need to provide education for Asian-Australian donor groups around the structures and regulation of Australian charities, which could benefit both the sector and the donor.

‘Something like tax law and how tax deductible donations work, which are things we might take for granted in knowing, but are not are not necessarily understood by everyone,’ Brown said.

Up until this report, there had been little discussion or research into the area of Asian-Australian donors, even though, according the the report, ‘the top three remittance inflows’ are to Asian countries.

While remittance funds are ‘primarily transferred’ to a donor’s family, it was found ‘a portion customarily goes toward charitable purposes and investments for the public good in destination countries’.

Brown said the oversight in this area of philanthropy is slowly changing, as the sector becomes ‘more externally connected’.

‘The LMCF are members of the Asian venture philanthropy network, and that sort of exposure helps you to see the possibilities of philanthropy from the diaspora communities in Melbourne,’ she said.

‘Providing more opportunities for giving and education will definitely help… it’s all about adding value to each other.’

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

This article originally appeared in Pro Bono New on 21 August 2018. The original article can be found here.

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