News Column

Hispanics in Philanthropy--'Thinking Big' Leads to Success

May 1, 2008

Steven Van Yoder

Hispanics in Philanthropy President Diana Campoamor

There is a shadow looming over the world of Hispanic nonprofits, threatening many with insolvency. Hundreds of charitable organizations confront the disturbing fact that about 1.2 percent of the donations from national foundations go to Hispanic nonprofits.

One organization, however, that has bucked this trend is the highly successful San Francisco-based Hispanics in Philanthropy. Called HIP by its members, the 25-year-old nonprofit consists of an international network of 480 grant-makers. It serves as a self-described "bridge" between Hispanic-focused nonprofits and funders.

Aggressive, savvy, and international in scope, HIP is filling a small but critically important niche, and it may be doing it better than any group in the nation. The statistics bear this out. HIP has raised an impressive $35 million to date and made grants to 427 Hispanic-run nonprofits, making its model for success worth scrutiny.

HIP President Diana Campoamor, who was recognized in 2007 as a Hispanic Business magazine 100 Most Influential, believes HIP may have the answer to the chronic under-funding of Hispanic nonprofits. "In the beginning, we could not understand why big foundations were not investing in Hispanic nonprofits. The more we explored the problem, we learned that foundations did not see the value delivered from the Hispanic nonprofit community."

"Talent Bank" Adds Value

HIP's 22-member staff has worked hard at developing programs that are designed to overcome this challenge. For example, through its "Talent Bank" of Hispanic leaders, HIP is able to assist foundations, corporations, and other nonprofits in identifying qualified Hispanic candidates when filling board and staff vacancies. Not only is HIP able to help the overall diversity of these organizations through the Talent Bank, it is able to deliver a clear and demonstrable value to donors.

Another critical element to donors is the makeup of the organizational board. HIP's 21-member board was carefully chosen to represent the United States, Mexico, and many Caribbean countries. "All members have an interest in supporting Hispanic communities, but by no means are they all Hispanic. We have a diverse membership," says organization spokeswoman, Elena Satut.

The organization acts as more than a "pass-through" entity, soliciting and distributing funds. It matches local donation dollars, provides knowledge and experience about local Hispanic communities, supplies a network of consulting professionals, and gives funders the opportunity to contribute to many nonprofits for the price of one grant.

HIP programs aren't always geared toward larger nonprofits. Its mission includes a program called "Funders' Collaborative for Strong Latino Communities," which serves smaller Hispanic-run nonprofits with operating budgets less than $2 million. It is also actively involved in outreach education; conducts regional, national, and international conferences; and produces publications.

"Think Big"

Many small nonprofits don't have the capacity to do fundraising, given their small staff s and budgets, Ms. Campoamor says. In addition, donors are inclined to give to large organizations, which means that potential funds bypass the majority of small- to medium-sized nonprofits.

To overcome this challenge, Ms. Campoamor advises Hispanic nonprofits to "think big" about their mission.

"There's plenty of money available for Hispanic nonprofits that collaborate around regional and national issues," she says. "Hispanic nonprofits must focus on making a wider impact in Latino communities through partnerships that expand the potential of their organizational mission. This kind of big thinking is precisely what national foundations consider when allocating funds to Hispanic causes."

Source: (c) 2008. All rights reserved.

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