Hispanics in Philanthropy

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The Association of Fundraising Professionals in Arizona hosted an event to talk about the challenges and successes of fundraising for Hispanic nonprofit organizations locally and across the country.

José Cárdenas: Welcome to "Horizonte." And thank you for joining us. The association of fund-raising professionals known as AFP. The greater Arizona organization chapter hosted a -- learning about the Hispanic organizations across the country. Joining me with more on this topic is Mark Walker, from Make A Wish International.

Mark Walker: Thank you, Jose.

José Cárdenas: We're talking about not just philanthropy, but given your resume, it's an international focus as well.

Mark Walker: Definitely. Philanthropy and AFP are very global. Having 30,000 members in over 200 countries around the world and philanthropy takes different shapes and sizes in each country. That's part of the work I do at make a wish. We have 34 affiliates around the world. Every country is different and you have to be sensitive the history and what they do well and what isn't working. And it depends on the culture, that's impacted by history as well.

José Cárdenas: And differences in tax laws, I think observers have noted there's greater giving in the United States than there is, for example, in Europe because of our tax code.

Mark Walker: If you look at fund-raising globally, Netherlands has the -- Netherlands has the largest not-for-profit sector based on the employees that come out of that. Then you have the Scandinavians and Europeans and the United States is somewhere in the middle. And Latin America is toward the bottom. And then at the very bottom of the list is Mexico. Which has the smallest third sector. So there's different countries have different levels of involvement. Different of levels of sophistication and part of the things we try to do at AFP is work with the professionals in these countries in developing their capacity to do a more effective job.

José Cárdenas: Given what you said about the differences there, how do the lessons the learned there have any particular relevance to here, Hispanics and philanthropy. I want to talk about the conference you did this week. But what is it that people here can learn about those differences?

Mark Walker: I think culture has an impact on the way people raise money. How they perceive philanthropy. And because of that, AFP sponsors a coverage, the coverage for fundraising and bring in over 450 professionals from throughout the United States, as well as Latin America, to learn more about fund-raising and enhance their capabilities. In Latin America, the majority of the money developed from philanthropy are through fees and historically, since the church and state have taken care of many of the needs, many have depended on the state and church and haven't develop what had we would consider the third sector. In Mexico, they have the smallest third sector and depended on the fees and state and church. Now they need to begin to develop and they're in the process of developing, broadening their capabilities to generate more money from individuals and other forms of private fundraising. And as we were talking before, now that they have the wealthiest individual in the world, who gives away $45 million a year, there's a whole opportunity, a new vision and attitude about philanthropy in Mexico. We can learn from them and they can learn from us, and one of things we try to do at AFP is promote a better understanding and interchange of information and how philanthropy takes -- the different ways it works out in different parts of the world.

José Cárdenas: We want to talk about that, but one issue I would think impacts philanthropy around the world is the state of the economy. What can you tell us about that?

Mark Walker: This has been one of the horrendous situations for the not for profit organizations in I think in my lifetime, at least. And most of the organizations are taking a fairly good hit and they are looking at decreased amount of resources coming in. Now, some of the organizations that meet the immediate needs of individuals, some of the food banks and groups that are meeting immediate needs, they've been getting some fairly good response rates, but other organization, especially the arts and certainly education have seen a decrease of 10-15%. So we're all happy to see the economy starting to turn around and hopefully that will have an impact. But one of the problems or one of the challenges is that organizations tend to pull back when they see the economy pull down and unfortunately, they pull back in the area of fund-raising and this is definitely not the time to pull back. This is the time to be more upfront and as a matter of fact, the organizations that have long-term donors, committed donors, those are the ones who will usually step up and give to less organizations but more to the organizations they're committed and engaged in. Our challenge is to look for ways to engage and involve our donors and appreciate the donors we have and ask them to help us through the difficult times.

José Cárdenas: Is that part of the message you delivered at the conference this week?

Mark Walker: It was one of the messages along with the fact we need to be sensitive to the nuances and differences in the Hispanic culture, the Latin American culture and how we need to adapt our strategies for that as well.

José Cárdenas: I think we have a picture of your keynote speaker on the screen. Before we talk about his presentation, tell us about this event. How it came to be?

Mark Walker: This is a three-year commitment of AFP to promote across border, across cultural appreciation and understanding and promotion of philanthropy. We've been involved with the hemispheric conference. And we've provided support and education and scholarships and we've provided scholarships for other individuals to go as well. So we're pleased with that and that's been important -- you know, our international focus has been important and this event here -- that we had today was just part of that process of promoting more understanding and cross cultural appreciation and skill building and exchange of information.

José Cárdenas: And what did they learn from Mr. Montoya who was successful in Denver and came here to share his experiences?

Mark Walker: We think it's important to bring in individuals from the outside who have been successful. Montoya is a successful businessman and he's a chairman of the board and talked about the Rhodes foundation and several corporations to develop 18 large Hispanic individual donors who gave $25,000 apiece to set up the Latino community foundation. Among organizations that support the Hispanic community and obviously, they're developing a capability to develop strategic partnerships and capabilities to raise larger gifts and we thought it important to share their story and hopefully look at ways to do similar -- develop similar strategies here in Phoenix.

José Cárdenas: You had a fairly distinguished panel that was part of the presentation at the conference. Was there discussion about the lessons that might be applicable here, taken from Denver that might be applicable to fund-raising in the Hispanic community here?

Mark Walker: We had a prestigious group of panelists. And they talked about Latina giving circles and we had one who talked about setting up the art center here and they all provided insights on what they learned and what they have learned. We think it's important not only to bring people from the outside to talk about successes, but also bring local Hispanic leaders to talk about best practices so we can build on successes that we already have here in the valley.

José Cárdenas: And what's the assessment, either theirs or yours or both, of the state of Hispanic philanthropy in Arizona?

Mark Walker: A couple of things. In general, Hispanics give a lot. They're very giving people. But most of the giving through the Hispanic community is an informal sector. Not structured. So we can't measure it as easily as we can with the other formal traditional fund-raising activities.

José Cárdenas: Would that be taking care of family?

Mark Walker: Exactly. The spend extended family, if you have a problem, you take care the family first. And if there are other problems, the church comes in and other problems, the state takes care of. There's similarities about the attitudes about philanthropies in Mexico and Latin America and here.

José Cárdenas: In terms of this coverage, this is the third year, I think you've done it --

Mark Walker: Right.

José Cárdenas: -- it will continue -- where do you expect it to go?

Mark Walker: We're right on the border with Mexico. We should have a cross cultural session in which we bring some of the AFP collaborators from the chapters in Mexico and have a broader discussion how culture impacts giving there and here. What we do similarly and what we need to learn from one another.

José Cárdenas: Mark Walker, Make A Wish Organization, thank you for joining us.

Mark Walker: Thank you.

Mark Walker:Vice President of Development, Make a Wish Foundation International;

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