Ana Marie Argilagos, who became president of Hispanics in Philanthropy (HIP) in January of 2018, recently chatted with us about her organization's work funded through the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's Catalyzing Community Giving grant opportunity. Hispanics in Philanthropy's mission is to expand investment in Latino communities across the Americas and to increase Latino representation in the philanthropic sector.
Q: What are HIP's current efforts to catalyze community giving?
Community giving is at the heart of what we do. I've been thinking a lot about how the Latino culture of generosity and giving takes shape. Latinos are such generous givers, and we’re giving in small and big ways, but since it’s dispersed and disaggregated it loses impact and influence. So that's one of the things that I'm doubling down on.
We feel it is very important to give Latinos the opportunity to participate in philanthropy. In our countries, we don't really have a culture of community foundations or of big foundations like Rockefeller and Ford. Traditional philanthropy doesn't look like us. But you can see our muscularity and grit in what happened with the diaspora after Hurricane Maria: the Hispanic Federation raised $35 million from our community. This is giving that's happening without the expectation of tax deductions or reciprocity – just giving for the sake of giving.
HIP has understood that culture of generosity, and we’ve also known that it’s important to keep evolving the ways we give. That’s why several years ago we launched our crowdfunding site HIPGive.org, which allows ordinary individuals – not just the anointed of philanthropy, but the everyday Jose and Maria – to become philanthropists. HIPGive allows anyone interested in Latino issues – whether or not they’re Latino themselves – to connect directly with grassroots nonprofits across the U.S. and Latin America. These are donors who want to see a change in their communities, and they get to invest in small dollars and big dollars, too.
For Hurricane Maria, for example, 750 donors came together to raise almost $600,000 through HIPGive. It's exciting that HIPGive can be used to raise money for specific nonprofits and that we can also use it for thematic areas – in this case, it was disaster and recovery. Donors want to give resources to organizations that they trust, and that are local. What became apparent was that there were a lot of great organizations doing relief work, but they were not necessarily leaving the money on the ground. HIPGive is an efficient way to get money to underfunded local organizations.
A lot of the smaller grassroots that are part of HIPGive – those that are volunteer-run, or that have only one staff member – get the opportunity not just to develop their financial resources;we also offer training and assistance and capacity development. It is one of the waves of the future.
One reason I’m so excited about HIPGive is that it offers the possibility of innovative new solutions. We’ve seen the power of giving circles – we have some amazing Latino giving circles in Georgia, Colorado, Arizona, California – and those are important, they are very relational, they are person-to-person. What we can look at now is how to take the strong elements of the giving circles and do them digitally, to allow that kind of opportunity to expand across the country.
We're also exploring how to expand HIPGive so that it’s not just funding for individual organizations – we want to take an issue area, like disaster recovery, and help people understand that this is something they can contribute to, even through it's a big, systems-oriented, macro problem. There is an interest in doing work around health equity, around small business and entrepreneurs, around education equity, the issue of voice and being counted. Technology can play a powerful role in bridging the gap and bringing results. Latinos are very young and we're very literate in terms of technology.
Q: How are you documenting these efforts?
Our website is very rich in the visual – photos, videos, in telling the stories of the organization. There are a lot of compelling personal stories, examples of what's happening. It is also embedded as we do technical assistance and capacity building with the nonprofits so they can successfully use the platform. They have to be able to successfully evoke what they are doing and why it matters. It's about collecting narratives, photographs, archiving.
Q: Do you think projects like yours are part of a larger movement to link community-based giving to critical issues in communities of color?
Communities of color have always taken care of their own and had different ways of doing that.
I love foundations. I've had the privilege of working with two amazing foundations. I understand the power of institutional philanthropy, but we also have to understand that they cannot solve everything. Which is why we also have to raise resources within the community from the people that are being impacted – they have to be part of the solution. Latinos in the U.S. have $1.4 trillion in buying power. Most of that goes to rent, food, babysitters, health insurance, and things like that – but a small sliver is disposable income that could be used to invest in our infrastructure, in the nonprofits that are there day in and day out. If we don't invest in our own institutions, how can we expect others to?
We see this in other communities as well. Black Lives Matter is an example. For Native Americans, you saw the huge amount of attention galvanized by Standing Rock. It not only unlocked consciousness, but it unlocked resources and donations – from all across the country. I think that we're on to something here.
Q: What would you say is HIP's unique approach to philanthropy?
The Latino community is under attack from a whole bunch of different voices in this country. They have positioned Latinos as takers, and that does not feel good – especially given that Latinos have been in this country for generations and generations. I was just listening to a Maria Hinojosa podcast from NPR's Latino USA, and she lifted up that Latinos were in New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, since the 1600s – since before Jamestown and Plymouth Rock. But we're still positioned as takers, as if we don't belong, as if we’re new on this soil.
What we're positing is that Latinos are givers, that we're contributing. HIP is building a movement of philanthropists. This includes wealthy individuals and entrepreneurs making smart investments, and it also includes people like my abuela, like my kid, who are also investing in their community. Taken together, it's a movement, and it complements institutional philanthropy in really beautiful and dynamic ways that I'm excited about.
This is a moment in time when there is so much global uncertainty. And we need to have all hands on deck to address it. The philanthropic role – philanthropy with the big "P" and the little "p" – is critical to the equation. HIP can be a network, which we've always been, but we can also be much more action oriented: raising funds and being advocates. We're a grantmaker as well: we've granted over $50 million in the past 15 years.
Q: Where can people go to get more information?
People can visit HIPonline.org, our website, and sign up for our listserv. And at HIPGive.org, where we do crowdfunding campaigns, people can help awesome nonprofits that are making a difference in their communities. For anybody interested in donating, in making an impact – that's a good place to start.