I recently read Jose Villa’s article, “The Multicultural Future of Non-Profits” that focuses on the impending demographic donor cliff: a shrinking base of older, whiter donors in theUS. This demographics shift represents an opportunity for Latino philanthropy. As the article states:
“47% of U.S. Hispanics donated to a charity or philanthropic organization in the last 12 months”
Villa goes on to explain that if second-generation Hispanics do not have a strong connection to their parent’s home country, they won’t send remittances.
“Clearly there is an opportunity with more than 60% of Hispanics born in the U.S. to be a more traditional option for their philanthropy.”
Villa provides larger, mainstream organizations with recommendations on how to attract Latino donors. However, what is missing from this article is a focus on what Latino-based organizations should be doing to attract these new sources of funding.
We cannot just assume that Latinos will direct their dollars to Latino causes. Or more importantly, those Latino philanthropists understand the nonprofit landscape in order to direct their giving.
LCF will soon release an evaluation report of our four-year, $1M, Children and Youth Initiative. One of the most interesting findings of this report has been an increased understanding of the unique challenges facing Latino organizations: immigration, digital divide, structural racism, and language/cultural constraints.
These factors are often compounded to create an environment where greater resources are needed to support lifting families out of poverty, and yet, fewer foundations and individual dollars are geared to Latino-based organizations.
While there is much work to be done in the philanthropic sector to change this reality, I want to focus on what Latino-based non-profit leaders can do today to not only survive, but thrive:
- Be a technology, digitally-driven organization. I know many Latino clients do not have computers at home and are not always online, but that is changing. More importantly – even if your clients are not online now, your donors are. Latinos are young, very tech-driven, engaged in social media and hungry to connect with you.
- Be Donor-Centered. Constantly ask the question, “Why would this matter to my donors?” Face it, you cannot do this work without money, donor contributions are often unrestricted (gold) and so you have to face the fact that this must become a priority for your organization if you are going to remain sustainable. Ask your donors what matters to them, and ask often!
- Communicate your story. The squeaky wheel gets greased. Show the impact of your work-analyze your data regularly, at least yearly, and demonstrate the ‘so what’ about your work. Make sure everyone in your organization has the data and messaging to be an unabashed advocate for your cause.
- Build relationships and ask for help. I know from running a ‘start-up’ that these recommendations are not simple. Look for pro bono assistance – I am always amazed at how many people step-up when asked for help. Sometimes, that ask can reap benefits for much longer than a check. Think outside of the box, build meaningful relationships and creatively engage people in your organization’s work.
Last but not least,
- Engage the next generation of Latinos. Find time to connect with Latinos in all sectors. Go where they are and tell them why your work is important. Be knowledgeable, be bold, and don’t assume that they aren’t interested. Invite young and entrepreneurial Latinos to join your board. If you can get people to take ownership of your organization and your cause, you will thrive.
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