Untapped Potential: How Can Organizations Reach More Hispanic Donors?

In a recent post titled "Meet the Top 20 Philanthropists of Color," we cited research by the Hispanic Federation and the Independent Sector that found that Hispanics are not asked to contribute to charity at the same rates as their white and black counterparts.

Beyond suggesting that it's relatively difficult to get donations if you don't ask, the research also views this challenge through the lens of reaching affluent individuals who, for whatever reason, remain on the sidelines. But how are organizations working to reach non-millionaire individuals of color within the community?

And so we turn to a case study, courtesy of the Knight Foundation's blog, where Big Give S.A. aimed to reach new donors in the heavily Hispanic San Antonio area. Let's set it up for you.

In an exercise of performance management that would make Michael Bloomberg proud, the Nonprofit Council and the San Antonio Area Foundation—the two brains behind the Big Give S.A., the 24-hour online give day for San Antonio and the surrounding 14 counties—crunched the numbers and realized they had a donor diversity problem.

According to the piece's author, John Burnham, a consultant who helps lead San Antonio’s Big Give S.A., while the group successfully brought more first-time donors to the table, growing from 41 percent in 2014 to 50 percent in 2016, the demographics didn't change all too much. Specifically, as of 2015, its donors were 78 percent female and 66 percent white in 2015. The San Antonio metro region is 55 percent Hispanic or Latino according to recent figures.

Big Give S.A.'s outreach plan was built on three key strategies. First, bilingual content and marketing. Tapping into local, philanthropically-minded companies, it partnered with Santikos Entertainment and Univision to run video and radio spots on air and in concentrated local theaters before the screening of major movies. (Check out the end result here.)

Secondly, Big Give S.A. brought in consultants from across the country to train agencies on cross-market communications and outreach to Hispanic communities. In particular—and rather astutely—it focused on the nuances and differences in giving between first and second-generation Hispanic and Latino communities, and how they use social media.

Lastly, it matched donation trends with demographic information. "With this information," according to Burnham, "we have been able to create links between causes and donors that will help us better tailor the language we use, the messaging we target donors with, and the information we can provide our nonprofit participants."

None of these strategies may sound particularly ground-breaking, but that's precisely the point. As Burnham notes, there's no magic bullet here, and we're pretty sure that you, our dear nonprofit fundraising readers, agree with that assessment. You're in the business of marathons, not sprints, and progress tends to be gradual.

To that end, Big Give S.A. saw see a two percent shift in giving percentages with the share of those who self-identified as white decreasing to 64 percent and those who self-identified as Hispanic increasing by two percent to 27.5 percent.