Latino planning, teamwork in works

By Todd Cohen

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — A pioneering effort to boost philanthropic support for Latino nonprofits throughout North Carolina is launching an initiative in Forsyth County to help local Latino groups plan and work together.

Through the planning initiative, which could serve as a model for other communities throughout the United States, a consultant would work with nonprofits that are led by or that serve Latinos.

In addition to spurring collaboration among those groups, the effort also aims to help funders find ways to better support them, says Ilana Dubester, Pittsboro-based program coordinator for the South for San Francisco-based Hispanics in Philanthropy.

Funding for the Forsyth County planning initiative has been approved by a committee overseeing statewide funding for the Funders Collaborative for Strong Latino Communities, and by Hispanics in Philanthropy.

North Carolina is the largest of 15 sites funded by the Funders Collaborative, an international initiative of Hispanics in Philanthropy that aims to strengthen the internal operations of small and medium-sized Latino nonprofits.

The effort, in which national funders match state and local funds, also aims to help donors better understand Latino nonprofits and the communities they serve, foster leadership among Latino nonprofits, and increase philanthropic investment in them.

The effort has raised more than $20 million for 15 sites, including 13 in the United States and one each in Argentina and the Dominican Republican.

Eighteen foundations in North Carolina have raised $1 million, including matching funds from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation in Winston-Salem, and those state funds have been matched, dollar-for-dollar, by national foundations through Hispanics in Philanthropy.

HIP is starting to raise another $50 million nationally for its next round of the collaborative, and the Reynolds in May made a new $500,000 grant as an additional challenge to local funders.

Of the $2 million previously raised for North Carolina, the most for any site in the collaborative, nearly $1.3 million has been distributed through 31 grants, mainly in the Triad, Triangle and western North Carolina, with only two grants east of Raleigh, reflecting the regions served by local funders that contributed to the investment pool.

Grants have consisted either of one-year planning grants, mainly to emerging Latino groups for strategic or fundraising planning, or multi-year grants for up to three years to put into effect projects to build Latino groups’ internal operations, or capacity.

“The idea is to strengthen the Latino nonprofit sector so they can in turn serve their community,” Dubester says.

The focus of the grants ranges from board and staff development and succession planning to hiring personnel and putting fundraising or strategic plans into effect.

While an estimated 75 to 100 groups and religious congregations in the state serve Latinos, Dubester says, many of them are led by volunteers or face other operating challenges, including the need for their executives to develop stronger leadership skills.

“Some leaders have on-the-job training,” she says. “Other leaders have a lot of passion but lack skills or accessible ways to get those skills.”

The new planning initiative in Forsyth County aims to address the fact that, while the statewide funding collaborative has made planning grants to Forsyth organizations, none of them followed up by seeking grants to put their plans into effect, Dubester says.

The funders and HIP hope that hiring a consultant to work with Forsyth Latino groups will result in greater collaboration, networking, coordination of services and strengthening nonprofits.

“In Forsyth County, we hope that by bringing local organizations together, we will end up with a full spectrum of efficient services identified by the Latino community,” says Donna G. Rader, vice president for grants and programs at the Winston-Salem Foundation, a member of the collaborative.

And the collaborative, she says, “could serve as a national model for addressing any issue.”

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