This week’s New York Times front page article on Asian American philanthropy provides an excellent overview of increasing philanthropic interest from Asian Americans. It zeroes in on philanthropy going back to the community, while also increasing influence in philanthropy through more ‘mainstream ‘ organizations like universities and museums.
The Times covered this topic six years ago as well, then focusing on the generation gap and class divide in the Chinese American community in New York City. That class divide still exists, and not just within the Chinese American community but across many Asian ethnic communities across the country. The blind spots are still there thanks to the perpetuation of the model minority myth. But thanks to efforts of data disaggregation by the Census bureau on the Asian population, we are making progress in identifying where and who the underserved and underrepresented Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are.
What’s also changed in the last six years is a significant increase in the organizing of communities of givers, in part to an increase in understanding and attention to philanthropy within the Asian American community. We (Asian Americans) have had wealthy individual donors; we’ve had donors giving to mainstream organizations. What we have now, and something to build upon, are many more communities of givers — Asian American giving circles, community foundations focused on Asians, such as the Chinese American Community Foundation, and growth of giving vehicles like the American India Foundation.
As philanthropy continues to grow in our Asian American communities across the country, it truly is only the beginning of real transformational change in the communities we seek to see in the months and years to come.