Keys to Success
So how do these organizations thrive? What are their keys to success, especially in the trying economic times of the past several years?
"In order for nonprofits to run effectively they should be run as a business," said Ricardo Diaz, executive director of Milwaukee's United Community Center (No. 20). "You need to measure results and hold staff accountable to those results. Your results should drive your future plans." UCC relies on its board of directors' business expertise to guide decisions and changes, he added. "For us, the results are the signs of customer satisfaction and success, and our best indicator of what is working and what is not."
All but five of the organizations have a development office or officer, and nearly all of them seek out funding from large foundations. The organizations have also been relentless in their pursuit of continual government funding and philanthropic support.
Such funding seems to be a prevalent theme to the success of the top 25.
While other nonprofits may have struggled to obtain dollars in recent years, the top 25 have actually seen an increase. For example, Acacia Network (No. 2), has seen support from financial institutions and major corporate partners nearly double from 2010-2011, and rise another 30 percent last year.
They were not alone. San Ysidro Health Center (No. 8) won a highly competitive Facilities Improvement Program award administered by the Health and Human Resources Agency. With the award, SYHC was able to open the 25,000-square-foot King-Chavez Health Center in August.
"The keys to keeping SYHC moving forward in these difficult times are maintaining positive and effective relationships with existing funders, exploring new funding opportunities by casting a wider net, and raising visibility (and developing sustainable partnerships) with community and business leaders in our region," said Kevin Mattson, SYHC senior vice president
Collaboration with other nonprofits has also become a popular way to raise money. The Mexican American Opportunity Foundation (No. 9) has established partnerships with the Child Care Alliance of Los Angeles and the National Alliance for Hispanic Health, for instance.
These collaboration efforts have even involved multiple agencies on our directory. A couple of years ago, Avance (No. 11) obtained a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for Avance's Unlocking Americaís Potential Project that it used to expand its evidence-based Parent-Child Education Program nationally. As part of this grant, Avance established three new research-partner sites, including one at La Casa de Don Pedro (No. 21).
Other organizations proactively reached out for contributions for the first time. Congreso de Latinos Unidos (No. 17) sought to understand and increase its donor base in 2012, which resulted in a doubling of its donor base and dollars raised.
Several organizations cited the difficulty in obtaining new grant monies. Many new grants are by invitation only, and many foundations are opting not to sponsor nonprofits they havenít financed in the past.
"Large foundations can be a challenge to get into," says Maria Esther Lopez, director, Institutional Advancement & Leadership Connections at El Valor (No. 22). "They operate at a global or national vision and shy away from grass-roots organizations no matter how large. Typically, a program officer must invite you to submit. It may take over a year for a relationship to develop into a submission."
There are new challenges, too, especially for organizations relying on government funding to run their programs. Eighty percent of the organizations indicated they have lost public funds due to state or federal budget deficits or the slow economy, and even those that havenít predict that they will.
Success for these organizations relies on being resourceful in aspects outside of funding as well. From staffing to IT, the nonprofits on our directory must look forward to continue to succeed.
"Our mission is to partner with our communities, lead change, and promote healthy and prosperous individuals and families," said Pamela Mattel, COO, Acacia Network. "Our approach is to build ownership at every (staff) level. Administrators are supported as 'CEOs' of their department, information is transparent and widely communicated, values are translated into specific behaviors to clarify expectations, (and) staff are encouraged to identify issues and solve problems on the spot."
An investment in IT is important, too, said Edmundo Hidalgo, president and CEO of Chicanos Por La Causa (No. 3). "With an organization as large and diverse as CPLC, we are reliant on technology to track our clients, our results and our funding effectively," he said. "We are always looking for ways to improve our systems and to automate whenever possible."
Numerous obstacles line the path for these organizations providing critical services in health care, education, housing and training for an often underserved community. They continue not only to get by but to thrive while improving on the services they provide. Call them what you will, in the eyes of their beneficiaries, these nonprofit organizations are nothing short of social enterprises.
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Research by HispanTelligence.
Source: HispanicBusiness.com (c) 2013. All rights reserved.