Latinas in Philanthropy

March/April 2005 |  By Arlene Martinez, Latina Style​

Mention philanthropy, and an image of a primly dressed Manhattan socialite tapping the Rockefellers or the Motts for the latest cause du jour might spring to mind. Philanthropy, though, is changing, and so are its players.

Hispanics are becoming more and more involved in the philanthropic world, on both the receiving and giving ends, and they’re doing their part to ensure Latino organizations are thought of as worthy options for the corporations, foundations and private citizens eager to donate money.


When she started in 1991, Diana Campoamor was a staff of one overseeing a budget of $25,000. Hispanics in Philanthropy (HIP) was a vision shared by a small number of people — a board of six or seven, actually, who were without an office, Campoamor, now its president, recalls.


Times have changed.


The Funders’ Collaborative for Strong Latino Communities, a project of HIP, facilitates donating to Latino organizations. The Collaborative offers grantors a dollar-for-dollar match for their donations. Campoamor and staff across the nation dole out funds to various organizations, acting as facilitators between grantor and grantee.


Over the past three years, the Collaborative has dispersed more than $19 million to over 250 Latino-led, Latino-serving nonprofits. Of those, Campoamor estimates that half are run by Latinas.


The types of groups that the Collaborative funds vary. There’s El Teatro Campesino in Northern California, a group that uses theater to describe the Chicano experience, which received a one-year grant for $40,000. Enlace Comunitario in New Mexico, a domestic violence program for Latinas, received a one-year grant for $35,000. Hijas de Tonantzin, a group that targets Latina youth in the areas of health, education and economic development in the Fresno area, received $5,000 for one year. ¿Oiste? The Massachusetts Latino Civic Education Initiative, Inc., received a three-year grant for $145,000 to help further the group’s mission of identifying key policy and legislative issues affecting the Latino community.


Funders are as diverse as the receiving organizations, ranging from the C.S. Mott Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation to organizations that might not ring as familiar a bell, including the Hispanic Federation and Fundación Minetti.


For an organization to receive money from the Collaborative, their operating budget must be less than $2 million and be run by and serve Hispanics. Funds are donated for building capacity. “For example, you can’t run a topnotch organization unless you have a topnotch staff on board,” says Campoamor. She says organizations put their grants for various uses, such as development, strategic planning, technology and communication.


HIP, which has a five-year goal of raising $50 million, has also donated assistance to the Dominican Republic and Argentina and may expand to Mexico next year.


Based in San Francisco, HIP aims not only to give money to Hispanics organizations but also to involve more Hispanics in the giving end of philanthropy. Though Latinos make up 13 percent of the population, they receive just two percent of philanthropic dollars, Campoamor says — partly because Hispanics are missing from the ranks of those who give the most: corporate America, foundations and wealthy individuals.

Catherine Pino and Ingrid Durán of
D&P Creative Strategies

Another reason, says Campoamor, is because Hispanic organizations are small. “They don’t have the capacity to do the fundraising. It’s a Catch 22 — you don’t have the capacity to do fundraising; therefore, you don’t raise money.”


Also, many donors give to large organizations, and Campoamor estimates that a vast majority of Latino organizations are in the small to medium range. If an organization has an annual budget of $200,000, getting a $500,000 grant from the Gates Foundation would be difficult, she says.


But a growing number of Latinas are taking active roles within corporations and foundations that are giving money for programs like domestic abuse, health, education, the arts and economic development.


Marilda Gándara, vice chair of the board of HIP, is president of the Aetna Foundation, the independent philanthropic arm of Aetna, the health insurance company. Gándara has been with Aetna since 1978, shortly after she graduated law school. In 2003, the foundation doled out $16.5 million; of that, $4.4 million went to nonprofits in Connecticut, Aetna’s home base.


Like many foundations, the Aetna Foundation has narrowed its focus on what it wants to fund. Predominantly, it is concentrating on the disparity in health care between whites and people of color. Regardless of income, background and type of health insurance, Gándara explains, non-whites receive poorer health care than whites. As part of its strategic plan, Aetna gives money to organizations that aim to eliminate this disparity.


Gándara also works to get more Latinos engaged in philanthropy. Along with Rosaida Rosario, a former board member of the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, she founded the Hartford Foundation’s Latino Endowment Fund in 2003, designed to increase support for Latino nonprofits. Some 40 Latino community members have been tapped to join the fund, giving in small and large amounts.


Gándara says introducing Latinos to “American philanthropy” has been an important step. Hispanics give, most significantly to extended families, says Gándara, but the Latino Endowment Fund works to introduce them to the organized structure of money giving. The Fund has raised more than $100,000 so far.


Another top Latina in the philanthropic wold is Ingrid Durán, who was president of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute for six years, where she spent time soliciting funds from foundations and corporations. Now she’s a co-founder and principal of D&P Creative Strategies, a Virginia-based consulting firm that includes among its missions strategic philanthropy. The company assists corporations and foundations in deciding to whom they will contribute.

Durán says that when she was at CHCI, most of the money the Institute received came from corporations. She says that, without Latinos already on board, some of the more elite foundations were significantly more difficult to tap into. She stresses that having Latinos in foundations helping dole out money is key. “If we are not at the table where the decisions are being made, we’re not likely to have the advantage,” says Durán.


One of D&P Creative Solution’s clients is Sodexho, a national food-services and facility-management company. Among other things, the company provides meals for college campuses across the country. “Corporations are not just writing a check for dinners [with] no follow up or return on investment. Because of limited resources, companies have to be strategic about” where to put their money, says Durán.

So D&P helped connect Sodexho with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, a coalition of schools with majority-Latino student populations. “[Sodexho works] with college campuses, so HACU is a natural,” says Durán.


The National Hispana Leadership Institute (NHLI) is another group Durán’s consulting firm helped connect with Sodexho, a company that actively seeks a diverse workforce. “NHLI makes good sense because they have a whole cadre [of Latinas] at the middle management level,” says Durán. “We’re trying to think outside the box. We’re always working social consciousness.”


Durán’s co-founder of D&P Creative Strategies, Catherine Pino, who began working in philanthropy at the Dewitt Readers Digest foundation 10 years ago, also spent six years with the Carnegie Corporation of New York. In her post as deputy director of the education division, Pino devoted much of her time working on a cause Carnegie has chosen to pursue: urban school reform, a $70 million, five-year plan to get more high-school students to graduate. The goal, explains Pino, is to break down what in some cases are massive districts into smaller “learning communities.” Working with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Carnegie has received support from leaders at the local, state and national levels.


As co-founders and principals of D&P Creative Strategies, Pino and Durán will help Latino organizations navigate the world of foundations. “It can be hard, and it can be lonely,” says Pino. Groups like Hispanics in Philanthropy provide not only information and resources but a support system, as well, she says.


“It’s really challenging work but obviously so important,” says Pino. “Giving out money is really a cool thing, but I’ll tell you, it’s really hard to give out money thoughtfully. It’s a wonderful privilege, but it’s really hard.”

  • Facebook Black Round
  • Twitter - Black Circle
  • LinkedIn - Black Circle
  • Instagram - Black Circle

© 2018 D&P Creative Strategies