Engaging the Hispanic Community in Online Fundraising & Advocacy
Every day, more and more Latinos and Latinas are going online. Whether for work, for play or to advance social causes, Latinos are increasing their presence and exercising political will with their laptops and cell phones. The mystery to many Latino advocacy and civil rights organizations has been how to translate that energy into online giving. Obviously, it’s not as simple as many people think or everyone would be flush with donors. Yet, at the same time, it is not as complex as many suggest. The Latino audience is supportive, but like most Americans doesn’t want to be hit up for money every other day. How do you find the balance?
When starting to think about fundraising for your organization online, you must do so in a way that is conducive to your base instead of trying to mimic others’ success. For example, people often hope to emulate the success Barack Obama had in his presidential campaign by following the same tactics. The fact is, though, that you are not running a presidential campaign and you are definitely not Barack Obama.
Latino organizations, this means focusing on the stories of the people you serve and the impact you have on those people’s lives. Every day, you and your co-workers provide valuable services to the community. In one day, you might help one person, one hundred, or even thousands. If you can tell their stories on a personal level, your message will get through to people in a way that makes them take out their wallets.
Another common mistake organizations make is to set the bar too high. This is especially true for Latino organizations because of the significant socioeconomic factors that differentiate Latino organizations from their counterparts in the progressive community. You can’t start by asking for $25. It’s a big number and the first thing a person will notice before deciding to contribute. Sometimes, even $5 is too high. If we can get people to get past the mental block of giving then we can be successful—and we can also ask them to give again and give more.
At Plus Three, we found that asking for $2 works well. Sure, it sounds crazy and like it’s not worth the effort—but before you stop reading, take a look at these numbers for a 501(c)(4) Latino advocacy organization that asked its supporters to give just $2:
Take a look, too, at these numbers for a 501(c)(3) Latino nonprofit:
These are the kind of results that we are seeing across the board for all of the Latino non-profits we serve. Once a person commits to making a contribution, takes the credit card out of their wallet, and enters the required information, they often decide they can give much more than $2.
The best part is that the demographic makeup of these donors was both over 97% Latino and 20 years younger than their offline counterparts who give through direct mail.
It has been a wonderful experience for us to see so many people named Juan, Jorge, Cynthia, Patricia, Eduardo, Emilio, Molina, Nieves, Hernandez, Reyes, Herrera, Ortiz, and Garcia commit their hard-earned dollars to Latino nonprofits that make individuals’ lives better and our communities stronger.
There is no doubt that the time to build this capacity is now. Latinos are a driving force in our economy, culture, and communities. Online fundraising that targets our community helps keep our collective mission moving forward and empowers an entire generation looking for a way to be a part of historic efforts in service of a myriad of civil and human rights issues.
Simply put, we must find the best way to tell our story, share our experiences, and reaffirm that any contribution, regardless of the amount, makes a difference in our struggle. Moving our community to give online is a realistic goal that should result every day in bigger returns. I wish you all the greatest success!
Juan M. Proaño is co-founder and President of Plus Three. He formed the company in 2002 to improve the way nonprofit organizations fundraise and build constituent groups by giving them immediate access to the widest array of contributors, while at the same time reducing the cost of each dollar raised. Juan has spent more than 17 years developing his expertise in the areas of product development, strategic marketing, and software integration. He has produced industry-leading technologies and best practices in the fields of database marketing and email delivery technologies.
At Plus Three, Juan’s extensive work with the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, John Kerry for President, and the NAACP has established him as an expert in online fundraising, constituency management and the political landscape. His leadership was instrumental to the creation of the DNC Demzilla database that enabled the Democrats to raise more than $85 million online in 2004 and surpass the Republican National Committee’s fundraising efforts for the first time in modern campaign history.
Juan frequently provides leadership training, sharing his expertise in using technology to win elections at national events such as the Democratic National Convention, Democratic GAIN and the DNC Latino Leadership Conference. He also provides political and technology commentary and has appeared in national publications, including the National Journal, Newsweek andTime.
In 2005, Juan was named one of the Top 100 Hispanic Entrepreneurs by Hispanic Trends magazine, and Plus Three was recognized as one of the top 100 fastest growing Hispanic business for three years in a row.