Interviews with Under-Represented Donors: What We Learned

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Interviews with Under-Represented Donors: What We Learned

This week we're exploring the key lessons from our latest event, sharing interviews with minority ethnic donors to find out how they engage with the charity sector.

Naomi Croft

On Wednesday 5th June we hosted an online event sharing clips and analysis from interviews we did with members of the UK’s ethnic minority communities regarding their engagement with charities. This was an opportunity for charities to get a deeper insight into how these under-represented audiences engage with the third sector and what could be done to better involve them through donations, awareness, and volunteering.

It's all too easy to fall into the trap of catering to the ‘average donor’. This event was an indicator that donors are not a monolith, and come from different experiences and cultures. Even within our respondents, we found varying opinions on the charity sector and comments that didn’t track with our statistics. These just go to show the wide variety of priorities and preferences that can exist in the same communities and is something that always needs to be in mind when undertaking qualitative research.

A few key themes came up across the interviews. One of the most common trends that we heard was that our respondents were keen to see more done about the rising cost of living, and most had noticed it in their personal lives. Some were feeling the pinch in their personal expenses, while others felt that it was affecting their communities and driving food bank use, and even crime. 

Community giving was brought up time and time again. We heard many comments signifying that donating locally was a priority, and there was a strong preference for seeing money donated and spent on community projects. 
Larger charities were treated, in part, with scepticism. Not only were there mentions of a lack of transparency in charity spending, but people also wanted to see more of the impact of their donations.

As with all of our events, we ended with a Q&A. We’ve highlighted some of the interesting questions that came out of this session:


1.    How do people from ethnic minority backgrounds compare to the wider general public in terms of volunteering?

Something that we heard mentioned as a key motivator driving engagement with charities was the importance of personal experiences that relate to a cause. For many of the people we spoke to, this was the key factor pushing them towards volunteering in their local communities. We saw a strong interest in volunteering as a preferred means of getting involved, which matches our quantitative data where we see this audience being more likely to volunteer than the general public (25% of ethnic minority audiences volunteered recently compared to 16% of the general public).


2.    How does religion play a part in giving to charity?

There are a few different ways religion, spirituality and cultural upbringing can shape motivations and the importance of community to people’s connection to charitable behaviours, which are especially strong themes for this group. Often, this isn’t necessarily about the religion itself, but more to do with the moral values which people were brought up practising. 

One respondent spoke about the importance of giving during Ramadan and how during Ramadan recently there were many groups that come together in their community to raise money. Another respondent discussed being raised as a Christian and the time they spent in church as a child. This person reflected that as an adult they are less involved in the Christian community but they can see its impacts in the way they have maintained their beliefs around equality and fairness. This was similar for another respondent who believes that “that moral compass, or faith, is something that will help personally and societally more than just having a pure religious background.”

This question was a very interesting one and something we were keen to find out in the interviews. Having heard these interesting and considered responses from respondents, we’re keen to explore this topic more in future qualitative and quantitative research. 

3.    What difference, if any, is there between 1st and 2nd generation immigrants?

Though our group did consist of multiple generations of immigrants, this subject wasn’t a common theme for discussion among our respondents. We might assume that integration into the wider culture of the UK over multiple generations would chip away at the differences in donation and volunteering habits, but this remains to be seen and is something we are looking to explore more in our general public research and in our minority ethnic research – so hold that thought!


We’re thankful to everyone who joined us at the event and made it one of most well-attended of all time. We’ll be delving into some of these questions more in the quantitative research happening in August – please contact for more information and download a briefing pack below.

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