Let's Raise Some Money
Insights from Karen Climer about fundraising and nonprofit organizations

Raising Money From Hispanic Donors

September 9th, 2013 by Karen Climer

The donor base of most nonprofit organizations is made up primarily of Anglo Baby Boomers.  That has worked for nonprofit organizations for many years.  Anglo Baby Boomers are a dying breed.  Unless you have been living in a cave for the past twenty years, you know that significant demographic changes have been taking place in the United States.  If nonprofit organizations do change with the times, many of them will become irrelevant.

More than half of the population growth in America in the last decade came from Hispanics. In order to remain relevant, nonprofit organizations need to connect with Hispanics, particularly young Hispanics.  Since this is the largest growing population and September is Hispanic Heritage Month, I thought I would share some ideas about working with Hispanic donors.

First and foremost, Hispanics are not one big homogeneous group.  There is a broad variety in Hispanics cultures.  Puerto Rico and Cuba, although fairly close geographically, are miles apart culturally.  Just as someone from America is not the same as someone from Britain or Australia, even though we all speak the same language, so it is with those who speak Spanish.

Second, it takes more than translating your website to Spanish and showing pictures of Hispanic families to appeal to this audience.  You need to reframe your message to appeal to their values.  For example, Hispanics are not likely to volunteer in the organized structure that most nonprofit organizations have created.  Hispanics typically volunteer with their church or by helping a neighbor.  Nonprofit organizations could take advantage of the generous volunteerism of Hispanics by creating a Hispanic social network.  A token Hispanic volunteer on the fundraising committee will not be productive – the fundraiser must build an entire social network, perhaps a Hispanic advisory board.

Third, Hispanics are generous.  According to the Kellogg Foundation, 63% of Hispanic households make charitable contributions.  However, you can’t assume that your organization has credibility.  Your organization’s mission and reputation are not enough to position you as worthy of donations in the Hispanic community.  For that, you need the credibility that comes from the involvement of key Hispanic stakeholders who are trusted within their community.

In many Spanish-speaking countries, particularly Latin America countries, people often distrust institutions (including your nonprofit organization).  They will only give if solicited by trusted friends.  Peer-to-peer fundraising is still the most successful, but “peer” must be redefined to mean someone with whom the prospect trusts, respects, and is familiar with.  It has less to do with affluence and status.

Lastly, ask for program support, not capital or endowment.  Hispanics are interested in solving immediate community needs.  Capital and endowment, while important to your organization, are not immediate and not as compelling to Hispanic donors.  Additionally, there is evidence that Hispanic donors prefer to donate through payroll dedication and federated campaigns.

Second generations Hispanics and Hispanics who moved to the U.S. as small children do not have as strong a connection to their parents’ home country, and therefore do not send remittances back.  There is great opportunity here for nonprofit organizations.  By understanding the culture and circumstances of Hispanic donors, nonprofit organizations can tap into this ever-growing population.

Posted in Target Markets

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