Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Hans Peter Schmitz, PhD, Chairperson Cheryl Getz, EdD, Member Joi Spencer, PhD, Member


fundraising, trust-based philanthropy, diversity, equity, inclusion, social identity


In the wake of society’s reinvigorated consciousness around structural and systemic racism, conversations centering justice, equity, inclusion, access, and cultural diversification are going far beyond political discourse. Contemporary fundraising practices are also challenging antiquated hegemonic ways of philanthropy and are critically examining the practice from within. Among many things, this entails diversifying the historically White-female dominated fundraising workforce. In this, fundraising literature has paid minimal attention to intercultural/cross-racial dynamics as implications of diversification of the fundraiser workforce. Although some research may center fundraisers themselves (relative to their ethical and/or professional standards), this dissertation expands this field of study by offering a first detailed and critical investigation of the social implications of the field’s diversification (e.g., how fundraisers of color are navigating both professional lives and the inherent power structures and inequities that exist).

Engaging critical race theory as a paradigmatic framework, while honoring both Afrocentricity and Black storywork as methodological frameworks, this dissertation centered experiences and narratives of six Black fundraisers navigating the historically White-overrepresented social landscape of philanthropy. Through means of a two-phased multimodal reflective process (dialogic and arts-informed inquiry), captured anecdotes were assembled as a collective narrative to detail this phenomenon.

In this study are unearthed complexities of the business of yes—which is, as coined in the study, a descriptor of the fundraising practice that ensues perpetual means of adaptation and negotiation within the social exchange of facilitating “trust-based” relationships. In this context, it is conveyed that Black fundraisers both consciously and unconsciously adopt a chameleonic practice through which they negotiate ways of showing up (attributed to, but not limited to, physical presentation(s), positioning on the frontline, and being (un)heard) in aid of garnering donor/grantor comfort and trust. Beyond contextualizing chameleonism and other adaptive considerations within the business of yes, this study invites readers to show up fully and authentically within the reimagined, socially just, and equitable philanthropic work.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Leadership Studies

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License.