The Tapestry of Giving: How Philanthropy Differs in Various Communities of Colour

Philanthropy is a universal concept that transcends boundaries, but its practice can vary greatly depending on the cultural and historical contexts of different communities. Within communities of colour, philanthropy takes on unique characteristics and nuances that reflect their heritage, values, and social challenges. In this blog post, we will explore how philanthropy differs in various communities of color, shedding light on the rich tapestry of giving and the impact it has on these communities.

Cultural Values and Traditions

Philanthropy is deeply rooted in cultural values and traditions. In Asian communities, for example, Confucianism emphasises the importance of supporting one’s family and community, leading to a strong emphasis on financial support for family members and contributions to community projects. In African-American communities, there is a long history of collective giving, as seen in practices like “tithing” in churches and supporting historically Black colleges and universities.

Collectivism vs. Individualism

The approach to philanthropy often differs based on whether a community has a collectivist or individualistic culture. In collectivist cultures, like many Asian and Indigenous communities, giving is often a communal effort, with families or groups pooling their resources to address shared challenges. In contrast, individualistic cultures may focus more on individual acts of charity and personal impact, which is common in Western philanthropy.

Historical Context

Historical experiences shape philanthropic practices. For example, Native American communities have faced significant hardships due to colonisation and forced displacement. As a result, many Native American philanthropic efforts are aimed at cultural preservation and addressing systemic challenges, including poverty and healthcare disparities.

Diaspora Giving

Communities of colour often engage in transnational philanthropy, supporting initiatives in their countries of origin. For instance, the Indian diaspora contributes to development projects in India, African diaspora communities support educational and healthcare projects in their home countries, and the Latinx community is active in philanthropy across the Americas.

Identity-Based Philanthropy

Identity-based philanthropy focuses on giving within a specific racial, ethnic, or cultural identity. This type of philanthropy aims to empower and uplift marginalised communities. For example, Latinx organisations may support immigrant rights, while the LGBTQ+ community often funds initiatives related to LGBTQ+ rights and acceptance.


Communities of colour often face multiple forms of discrimination and disadvantage, making their philanthropic efforts inherently intersectional. For example, Black women may engage in philanthropy that addresses issues of race and gender discrimination. Recognising these intersections is essential for effective philanthropy in these communities.

Philanthropy as Social Change

In many communities of colour, philanthropy is seen as a means of driving social change. African-American civil rights activists like Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X relied on philanthropic support to advance their causes. Similarly, contemporary movements like Black Lives Matter have received significant contributions from individuals and organisations within the Black community.

Philanthropy is a deeply human endeavour, and how it manifests within communities of colour is as diverse and rich as the communities themselves. The differences in philanthropic practices among these communities reflect their unique cultural values, historical experiences, and social challenges. By understanding and celebrating these variations, we can better appreciate the incredible impact that philanthropy has on the well-being and empowerment of communities of colour around the world.