New Study Spotlights That AAPI and Native American Communities Are Overlooked by Funders 

Media contact: Sarah Martin, Associate Manager, Programming and External Relations: 617-208-7103

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Cambridge, MA — Even as philanthropy has turned greater attention toward issues of racism and systemic inequality since early 2020, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) and Native American nonprofit leaders and communities appear not to have received much increased support from foundation funders. While many foundations report increasing support to nonprofits serving Black and Latino communities, most continue to overlook nonprofits that serve AAPI and Native American communities, despite evidence that these communities have suffered disproportionately from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In two reports released today, the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) shares data and insight from AAPI and Native American nonprofit leaders and communities that elucidate these concerning trends:

  1. AAPI and Native American nonprofit leaders report having less positive experiences with their foundation funders than nonprofit leaders of other races/ethnicities. This has been the case during, as well as prior to, the pandemic.
  2. Despite the significant challenges facing AAPI and Native American people, most foundations continue to overlook nonprofits that serve these communities.

Data from throughout the last decade reveal that Asian American and Native American leaders have rated their foundation funders lower in terms of the strength of their relationships, AAPI and Native American leaders have rated foundation funders as having less understanding of their organizations and the contexts in which they operate, and Native American leaders have rated their foundation funders as having lower impact on their fields.

While these less positive experiences with foundation funders began prior to and continued throughout the pandemic, AAPI and Native American communities have suffered disproportionately under the effects of COVID-19. Crimes targeting people of AAPI descent have risen substantially and both Pacific Islanders and Native Americans have been among the groups with the highest death rates from COVID-19. Despite this, only about one fifth or fewer foundations increased the percentage of grant dollars they are directing to organizations serving Native American, Asian American, or Pacific Islander communities and almost two thirds of foundation leaders say that they provide little or no grant dollars to organizations serving Native American or AAPI communities.

In addition to survey data, CEP research staff conducted interviews with 13 AAPI and Native American nonprofit leaders from 11 organizations. In interviews, leaders from both AAPI and Native American nonprofit organizations noted that foundation funders often didn’t take the time to get to know and understand the diverse community they were working with or the issues they face, or to take the time really to educate themselves.” When asked what funders could do better, leaders from AAPI and Native American nonprofits encouraged foundation funders to “simply get to know us.” Both reports include stories and advice to funders from AAPI and Native American leaders in their own words.

Going forward, nonprofit leaders from both AAPI and Native American communities indicated a desire to see foundations build stronger relationships with them by engaging and communicating more, developing their understanding of their organizations and the contexts in which they work, and funding or increase funding to organizations led by and serving these communities. Each report contains a list of resources funders can use to find nonprofits serving AAPI and Native American communities, as well as resources to learn about better supporting these communities.

The report on AAPI communities’ experiences with foundation funders can be found here and the report on Native American communities’ experiences with foundation funders can be found here.

About The Center for Effective Philanthropy
The Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) is a nonprofit organization with a mission to provide data, feedback, programs, and insights to help individual and institutional donors improve their effectiveness. We do this work because we believe effective donors, working collaboratively and thoughtfully, can profoundly contribute to creating a better and more just world. For more information on CEP’s work, including its research, assessments, advisory services, and programming, visit www.cep.org.

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