Asian Americans Becoming a Force in Philanthropy

Asian Americans, the fastest-growing population in America, increasingly are donating to nonprofits working to meet the needs of their own diaspora populations or in their home countries, the New York Times reports.

According to the Census Bureau, the number of Americans who identified themselves as partially or 100 percent Asian nearly doubled in the past decade. At the same time, a new wave of affluent Asian Americans has been exploring institutional philanthropy, a concept that runs counter to the traditional Asian practice of giving directly to family members or local groups or businesses, rather than to third-party grantmaking institutions. "They see their mainstream American peers giving and they say, 'I'm going to do that,'" American India Foundation vice chairman Pradeep Kashyap told the Times.

For some Asian Americans, giving back to their home countries or to help with the needs of diaspora populations allows them to reconnect with their "pack," the Times reports. "We grew up with this idea that success is the...distance you can create between yourself and the pack," said Korean American Community Foundation executive director Kyung B. Yoon. "But it's really about how much of the pack you can bring along."

To that end, the New York City-based community foundation, which was formed in 2002, uses the funds it raises to support Korean Americans in New York. In contrast, the American India Foundation, which was established following an earthquake that struck Gujarat in 2001, distributes grants only to charities in India.

And while hundreds of such foundations exist in the U.S. today, philanthropy consultant Dien S. Yuen, who helped establish the Chinese American Community Foundation in 2012, says Asian American philanthropy has yet to reach its peak. "I think in the next three or four years, there's going to be huge growth," Yuen told the Times, "because philanthropy has become mainstream."

Kirk Semple. "Asian-Americans Gain Influence in Philanthropy." New York Times 01/08/2013.