News Column

In the Black

May 2005, HISPANIC BUSINESS Magazine

Joel Russell


For years the tax forms filed by the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) showed massive money losses. For FY2003, the latest publicly available data, the Form 990 indicates the USHCC lost $179,219, although if non-cash future income from its capital program is included, the chamber actually had a surplus of $97,111. Either way, it's an improvement from the more than half-million dollar deficit in 2001 (see table), and the USHCC projects surpluses for FY2004.

"We were profitable as of March 31, 2004," says Rafael Sanchez, CEO of California-based and chairman of the USHCC Finance Committee. "We want to be even more profitable, and at the end of March 31, 2005, we should reach a projected profit of $373,000."

The USHCC managed this turnaround by diversifying its income and increasing its revenues. Income streams for 2003 included federal government grants, a television show (Hispanics Today), a magazine publishing venture (Hispanic Trends), and a subscription promotion with Time Inc. However, these activities added little to the USHCC coffers.

"The main issue is that we need to diversify," says Mr. Sanchez. "We can't be dependent on sponsorships and events. We need to reach the point where we are a membership-driven organization, and that's our eventual goal."

On the media side, Hispanics Today reported expenses and costs of $1,332,735, meaning it broke even in 2003. The partnership that publishes Hispanic Trends contributed only $6,077 to the chamber's income.
According to Mr. Sanchez, FY2004 will be the first time in five years the TV show will produce a surplus. He credits that and a successful annual convention for the financial turnaround. "One of the main reasons for losses the past few years was to keep the TV show going," he says.

Looking forward, new chairman David Lizarraga has made changes to make USHCC finances more transparent. New CFO Bill Rodriguez will continue to report to the board. The USHCC will seek new bids for its outside auditor contract. And Mr. Sanchez reports that the new board recently voted to release the USHCC's audited financial statements to anyone who requests it in writing.


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