Urban Wire Four Strategies to Maximize Latinx-Focused Philanthropy and Charitable Efforts
Fernanda Caceres, Keely Hanson
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Latinos’ growing role in American society will factor into the next presidential election when, for the first time, they become the largest ethnic or racial minority group in the electorate. Latinos are also projected to maintain the highest labor force participation rates among racial or ethnic groups, and by 2020, it is projected that the Latino gross domestic product (GDP), at $1.7 trillion, will account for almost a quarter of the US GDP.

Many in the philanthropic sector have acknowledged that the Latinx community is a driving economic, political, and cultural force in America. But significant population increases and growth in philanthropic giving have not yet translated into more charitable investments for the Latinx community.

For example, it was estimated that only 1.3 percent of all philanthropic dollars granted between 1999 and 2009 were awarded in support of Latinx communities. Recognizing the need for more reliable data that can track Latinx funding, the LATINXFunders dashboard was launched to better document the landscape of foundation funding for the Latinx community and track changes in its scale and priorities.

Despite some clear Latinx-focused philanthropic advancements, these trends signal that the philanthropic sector can do more to ensure grantmakers successfully partner with and empower Latinx leaders and community members and fund projects that matter to them.

Here are a few considerations to ensure philanthropy maximizes Latinx-related funding:

1. Tap the giving potential of Latinx communities

The Latinx community has a long-standing tradition of giving, rooted in a strong cultural background and experiences as immigrants. Both Black and Hispanic families contribute a larger share of their wealth to charity than their white counterparts, despite the racial wealth gap.

Although giving is a personal decision, studies have illuminated unique and important traits of Latinx donors (PDF). They are the youngest donors of all racial and ethnic groups, are the most interested in hearing more from nonprofits, and are more likely to say they give spontaneously, especially in response to unexpected disasters or events.

Money and goods sent by many Latinx families back to their countries of origin can also be interpreted as a form of generosity. In 2018, these remittance flows into Latin America and the Caribbean increased almost 10 percent, to $87 billion.

Despite all this, Latinos are not asked for donations (PDF) as frequently as others. To maximize the giving potential of the Latinx community, the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors must consider the preferences of Latinx donors and have giving vehicles that align with the interests of the Latinx community.

2. Support expanded data and research that center Latinx communities

Better understanding of the issues affecting Latinx communities can equip funders with data and knowledge to inform their funding strategies toward Latinos.

For example, the intersection of immigration and the criminal justice system is an important issue to the Latinx community. But states usually fail to even delineate Latinx people in the criminal justice system, meaning no one knows exactly how many Latinos are arrested each year or how many are in prison, on probation, or on parole.

This lack of data has implications not only on funding agendas but also on policy outcomes and people’s lives.

In a recent conversation hosted by the Urban Institute’s Latinx Affinity Group and Structural Racism Project, Matt A. Barreto emphasized the importance of dedicating resources and efforts to capturing a research sample large enough to represent the diversity of the Latinx community, which varies by primary language, race, income, generations in the US, immigration status, level of education, and culture.

Funders can ensure that Latinx perspectives are more accurately represented and thoughtfully captured in research and in their grantmaking strategies.

3. Diversify Latinx funding by region and issue area

To maximize investments in, by, and for Latinx communities, foundations need to account for the diversity of backgrounds and subgroups and the evolving demographics of the Latino population. Grantmaking strategies that aim to benefit the Latinx community must reflect the diversity of who they are, where they live, and the issues that affect them. 

According to LATINXFunders, the top five recipients of Latinx-related grants are the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, the National Academy of Sciences, UnidosUS, Education Trust, and Aspire Public Schools, showing a strong focus on education. Still, a recent poll conducted by Univision and Latino Decisions reveals that issues of major concern for the Latinx community include lowering the cost of health care, protecting immigrant rights, stopping racism against immigrants and Latinos, and improving wages and incomes.

Funders should also consider geography. The largest share of foundation dollars targeting Latinx communities goes to states on the west coast, especially to organizations in California. Although the west coast has a large representation of Latinx Americans, more can be done to distribute funding across geographic locations, especially in the South, which has seen the largest Latinx population growth since 2008. Similarly, in North Dakota alone, the Latinx population has increased 248 percent from 2000 to 2017.

Puerto Rico is also frequently overlooked by foundations, which tend to give proportionally less (PDF) to organizations on the island even though it has a similar number of Latinos when compared with US states and urgent needs as they continue to recover from the devastation of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

4. Increase funding for Latinx-led groups and Latinx initiatives

Latino-based community funds, much like other identity-based community funds, emerged in response to a lack of organized philanthropic efforts addressing Latinx communities and issues. More can be done to support building and sustaining the infrastructure to ensure that Latinx -focused platforms and initiatives thrive.

The Latino Giving Circle Network is a great example of how such efforts effectively engage Latinos as philanthropic leaders and involve them in strengthening locally focused Latino nonprofits that tend to be overlooked by national funders.

HIPGive, a transnational bilingual online giving platform, has raised more than $2 million for Latino-focused nonprofits since April 2014. They effectively model how to identify and vet Latino-serving community organizations and connect them with donors who want to support social impact initiatives serving Latino communities across the Americas.

Ultimately, none are more knowledgeable about Latinx needs and committed to the well-being of the Latinx community than Latinos themselves. Funding Latinx leadership and organizations that serve the Latinx community, both within and outside of the philanthropic sector, can help power efforts to address the issues that impact them.

And Latinx issues often reflect broader problems facing the country. Action is expected and demanded from traditional leaders in the public and private sectors, but the philanthropic sector is uniquely positioned to help drive meaningful and transformative change.

As a first step, foundations can incorporate a racial equity lens into their grantmaking strategies and target investments toward communities of color. But this work must be done alongside efforts to ensure that philanthropy is improving outcomes for Latinx communities and the country as a whole.


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The Urban Institute podcast, Evidence in Action, inspires changemakers to lead with evidence and act with equity. Cohosted by Urban President Sarah Rosen Wartell and Executive Vice President Kimberlyn Leary, every episode features in-depth discussions with experts and leaders on topics ranging from how to advance equity, to designing innovative solutions that achieve community impact, to what it means to practice evidence-based leadership.


Research Areas Nonprofits and philanthropy
Tags Structural racism in civil society and civic participation Charitable giving Latinx communities Race and equity in grantmaking
Policy Centers Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy