Diaspora fundraising               


Some key aspects of my life have led to an interest in diaspora fundraising. A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to work on a project in Armenia looking at the possibility of scaling up fundraising activities across all types of income sources and activities. Armenia has a significant and active diaspora population, and this was a key aspect of our findings and recommendations. I have also been fortunate to live overseas whilst regularly visiting my home in the UK, so know at first hand the connections and feelings of being away from your country of origin.

In my role as Director of Development and Alumni Relations at a UK university I saw how the overseas alumni wanted to interact and engage with the university, seeking to keep alive and support their experience they had enjoyed in the country and at the university. And finally, having enjoyed many years of travelling and working internationally experiencing different cultures, you realize that connections with our past are important to us, whoever you are, wherever you are.

All these life experiences have generated for me an interest in diaspora fundraising which I believe, as the world becomes a smaller place and potentially driven by the current COVID-19 global health crisis, can actually play an important role for many charities.

Here are some quick insights and tips to consider:

  • Members of diaspora communities want to give back to their own countries, but your cause also needs to inspire them beyond the country connection. Diaspora giving is neither novel nor emerging, but it is easier than ever for donors to support causes in their countries of origin.

  • Online methods are cost-effective and efficient ways to reach these niche communities using social media platforms, email, targeted banners, microsites, virtual events and crowdfunding sites.

  • Look at opportunities to link into global corporates through partnerships that enable you to access connections with specific diaspora communities for a campaign. For example, PricewaterhouseCoopers has extensive employee and alumni engagement programs and a partnership with them could create a great opportunity to reach out through their networks to reach specific diaspora communities.

  • Communication globally, and the sending of monies across different currencies and countries, has become extremely easy with internet, mobile phones and technology in general. Recent innovations in banking such as Revolut are really pushing the boundaries and creating new opportunities to receive and send money.

  • Giving from diaspora has gone way beyond small gifts from first generation migrants, and with the emerging trends of Generation Z who are now in the workplace, enjoying global mobility and outlook, the potential to garner support will only accelerate, but you will need to consider how you engage them and inspire their support.

  • If you have international offices, work with them to reach the diaspora communities, tailoring campaigns that connect and inspire them in your country offices. There are published figures for numbers of diaspora in certain countries. There are hubs of communication activities both online and in print being used to reach these communities, leveraging new and existing channels of communication.

  • Tap into the relevant Diaspora Foundations and Associations that have the networks and understanding of their audiences.

Diaspora fundraising occupies a unique position in the ever-evolving and shifting landscape of philanthropy, and its relevance to Canada is significant, given the country’s rich and diverse ethnic and cultural mix. More and more people are operating at an international and local level. New actors are bringing new approaches to address and meet societal ideas.


Michelle Sorrell is Associate Consultant with THINK Consulting Solutions.
Click here to meet Michelle.