Written by Claudia Arroyo, Executive Director, Prospera
When Prospera was invited to be part of the 2019-2020 Latino Nonprofit Accelerator, the timing was perfect. We had emerged from a long process of changing our name and updating our programmatic model. Our organizational culture was strong. Our team was really clear on our shared values and the sense of family and belonging was something we could all feel. Prospera was finally ready to spread our wings and fly – the only thing we lacked was money to back up our bold vision.
Because of the Latino Nonprofit Accelerator, Prospera is stronger than ever before. Our organization didn’t have any current photography, nor a clear and concise way to tell our story and our impact. Now we have both and so much more. We gained a beautiful set of photos, a dynamic one pager capturing our essence, a new logo, an updated website, and increased capacity to market our mission and impact. Even more important, we’ve brought lessons about the importance of authenticity, storytelling, and fundraising back to our entire organization. Through the 16-month long Accelerator, we were able to leverage $516,200 in new funding! That’s incredible!!!
When I first began as a Co-Director at Prospera, my entire focus was on programmatic work. All of our fundraising work was held by one person – my former colleague and Co-Director Maria. To be honest, I was afraid to ask for money. During Accelerator retreats, I learned that I wasn’t alone. Through workshops and candid discussions, LCF actually helped us build those muscles and shift our money mindset. Now, when I fundraise, I feel powerful. I am embracing my story and my love for our mission and asking for solidarity, not just money.
I was so struck by how different my experience in the Accelerator was from other capacity building programs. The philanthropic sector creates a lot of competition. When we go to meetings, we see other leaders and organizations as competitors for visibility, for grants, and for resources. That only deepens the sense of isolation and exhaustion we feel. But as part of LCF, we gained a whole community of cheerleaders, mentors, and people who open doors. This includes other nonprofit leaders, not just funders.
The Accelerator helped us look around our organization and recognize needed shifts. Now all of our staff are involved in fundraising and telling our story because we know that is a much more sustainable model and we see it as fun. We also felt freedom to lean into our values of centering love and taking care of our people during the pandemic – we’ve created new benefits for mental health, incorporated wellness into our programming, and established more time off for our incredible staff to recharge. LCF always reminds us of that.
Most transformative about our partnership with LCF is how it counters the traditional power dynamics between organizations and the philanthropic institutions that fund them. Our relationship with LCF isn’t a transactional one. Instead, it is a true relationship, deeply rooted in trust, that gives us the freedom to take risks, be honest, and dream big. Having a real mentor and champion who believes in you but will also push you, challenge you, and keep you accountable is something every leader should have. When I have fundraising self-doubts, I call Masha and she reminds me of my power.
You can learn more about the incredible Accelerator program and the impact it’s had for organizations like mine in the brand new Latino Non-Profit Accelerator Impact Report.
At the end of the day, the success of this program demonstrates that grassroots leaders need support with fundraising. Not just with our pitches, proposals, and websites—but by opening doors within philanthropy. I was always intimidated by fundraising, afraid that something could go wrong. LCF’s Accelerator really focused on the root causes of those fears and gave us all the tools, confidence, and the connections to be successful. We took full advantage— we listened, we tested, we won, and we learned. LCF and being part of this inspiring Accelerator cohort changed who we are forever. Thank you.