Philanthropy: Being Generous to Others

I am grateful to count working in philanthropy as part of my career; I have over 20 years of experience in the field of philanthropy. I have been a staff member, fellow, and/or consultant with at least 20 community foundations in San Diego, San Francisco, Slovakia, Vancouver, and along both sides of the Mexico-US border.  I have also provided workshops and trainings for family foundations throughout the United States and have done contract work for at least two corporate foundations.  My career has afforded me amazing opportunities including sharing a meal with some of the largest philanthropist in California….you know the ones whose names are on buildings. What I have learned through the years is that Latinos are some of the most passionate philanthropist I know.

For many, philanthropy means giving large donations to nonprofits, houses of worships, or educational institutions.  The truth is that philanthropy is much broader.  According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, philanthropy means: 1. goodwill to fellow members of the human race. 2. an act or gift done or made for humanitarian purposes.  We all have stories of our grandmothers, providing meals and housing to friends in need. Maybe your first memory is putting some coins in the offertory basket at church or bringing canned food to the temple during the high holidays. Did your mom volunteer in your class or school?  As a family, did you come together to make tamales or empanadas to be sold to support a community need or opportunity? Moreover, I bet most of us donated the clothes and toys we outgrew to others in the community.  These are all gestures of goodwill toward others and thus philanthropy.

Most of funding for nonprofits and schools comes from government.  Having said that it is important to note the power of private giving.  In 2014, total private giving in the United States was $358.38 billion, which was an increase of 7% from the previous year.  A majority, 72%, was from individuals while 15% came from foundations and 5% from corporations.  The top categories were religion (32%), then education (15%) and third was a tie between human services (12%) and gifts to foundations (12%).  According to Hispanics in Philanthropy (HIP) and the Foundation Center, “Over the past decade, U.S. foundation dollars explicitly designated to benefit Latinos have remained steady, comprising about 1% of total foundation funding, even as the Latino population has grown significantly over the same period.”  Please note that this does not represent all giving that may have benefited Latino communities. It just represents that giving that is clearly described as intended to benefit Latinos or Hispanics.

It is important to reiterate that the most generous group in the United States was not institutional philanthropy, but individuals.  Americans in general are very generous. Over 95% of households give to charity.  What is amazing as well is that the average household giving reached $2,030.  It is difficult to find statistics on giving by Latinos. We do know that Latinos’ giving is usually family or faith-based. In addition, when discussing giving it is also important to note that according to the World Bank and Pew Research Center migrant remittances (money migrants send back home) to all Spanish speaking Latin America was nearly $54 billion in 2013 with 78% coming from migrants in the United States.  Remittances are a larger source of money for Latin America than official foreign aid, which in 2011 totaled $6.2 billion. These monies are spent by households predominately on basic needs as well as allow families to save and invest and many times help villages build schools, roads, and churches.

Though Latinos are very generous, I would like to challenge us all to consider increasing our financial donations to at least 1% of our income to improve the outcomes of Latinos in California.  With the help of Pew Research Center, I calculate that if every Latino in California over the age of 20 donated 1% of their income, it would total over $2.1 billion a year!  A way to understand the enormity of our capacity to give is that U.S. foundations on average award only $206 million in grants per year to Latinos.

So what could 2.1 billion philanthropic dollars do for our communities?  A LOT.  For starters, it could buy 20 million school textbooks, help put at least 17 thousand student through all four years of college, or purchase 7 thousand average homes per year!

One percent may seem like a lot, but when you break it down into monthly payments, it is doable.  First, 1% of your 40 hour work week is 24 minutes…that is less than half an hour.  Financially, if you make $50,000, your monthly donations would be about $42 dollars, which is less than the cost of dinner and a movie with friends.  So let your mind wander and envision the difference you want to make in your community and begin to invest in this dream and get others to do the same.  Together our giving will assure that our communities improve. So let’s promote giving by Latinos for Latinos!  For more information or ideas on philanthropy by and for Latinos you can visit Latino Community Foundation or Hispanics In Philanthropy.  Your local community foundation or United Ways can help you identify Latino lead and/or serving organizations near you.

889 Hope 2015

About the Author:

Patricia S. Sinay, HLI ’15, is a nonprofit and philanthropic consultant, instructor of public services, as well as a member of the Encinitas Union School Board.  Her purpose is to connect the passion of individuals and organizations to action that results in better communities. You can contact her at


Latinos and Philanthropy

HOPE is proud to introduce a short series on Latinos and Philanthropy authored by three HOPE Leadership Institute (HLI) leaders. We hope that through this series you learn more about the role you can play in philanthropy , define what philanthropy means to you and that it motivates you to take action in regards to your own philanthropic giving.

Meet the Bloggers:

Patricia Sinay, HLI 2015, a nonprofit and philanthropic consultant, instructor of public services, and member of the Encinitas Union School Board.  Her purpose is to connect the passion of individuals and organizations to action that results in better communities

Michelle Jaramillo, HLI 2014, is the Community Impact Director for The San Diego Foundation. Michelle develops and manages strategies that advance WELL (Work, Enjoy, Live, Learn). Through collaboration with nonprofits, community stakeholders, government, business, philanthropy, and academia, she helps drive systemic change to address the needs of the region. Previously, as Communications Director of the San Diego Housing Federation, Michelle supported a coalition of leaders and organizations, working to ensure all San Diegans have access to a safe, stable and affordable place to call home. Prior, she served as Director of Communications and Programs for the U.S. – Mexico Border Philanthropy Partnership. Michelle was a co-founder and chair of the San Diego Chapter of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy and a co-founder and current chair of the Latina Giving Circle of San Diego. Connect with Michelle @MJaramilloSD. Connect with Latina Giving Circle @LatinaGiving

Rosie Arroyo, HLI 2007, is a program officer for the California Community Foundation where she manages programs, initiatives and outreach for the Civic Engagement and Public Policy department. She currently sits on the Board of Director for Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE).

The HOPE Leadership Institute (HLI), one of HOPE’s flagship programs, trains Latinas to advocate on behalf of their community. The HLI remains the first and only program in California designed to give Latinas the skills they need to tackle the health, education, and economic challenges facing their communities.

Check back soon for more on Latinos and Philanthropy, and make sure you’re following HOPE on Twitter and Facebook to be notified when the latest blog post is published!

Still Missing: Latinas in Corporate Leadership

by: Mary Jean Duran

The data shows that Latinas are not only missing, they aren’t even a rounding error on the Boards of California’s largest corporations! In 2009 HOPE published Missing: Latinas In Executive Leadership in California’s Corporations based largely on data from the 2009 UC Davis Study of California Women Business Leaders. UC Davis released an updated report last week.

Ms. Amanda Kimball, author of the UC Davis study, notes that 91 California companies appear on the Fortune 1000 list. The highest role in corporate leadership is the Board of Directors. Those 91 companies have 883 directors in all, of those 149 are women, and THREE are Latina.

That is not a typo. THREE TENTHS OF ONE PERCENT of directors of California’s largest public corporations are Latina. Even within the subset of women directors, Latinas only comprise 2% of the total.

Why does this matter?

The issue of corporate leadership matters because for California to thrive, we must all contribute to the best of our abilities. As individuals, small businesses, corporations, government, et al.

The Davis study showed that “the top 25 companies by percentage of women leaders generated twice the revenue and net income of the average company” in the study. Some characterize this as a “chicken or egg” issue. Is the company successful and therefor has time and resources to develop the best possible leadership team, or does the diverse leadership team drive better results?

I’m an “and” person. A successful company spends the time and resources to develop the best possible team, and the high-functioning team drives bottom-line results. Results mean you grow, invest, hire more people, give back to your community, etc.

The Davis study also showed that 25.3% of California’s largest 400 public companies had NO women in the top five executive positions. Can they honestly think they have the best and brightest teams assembled?

Latinas are 18% of all Californians. To believe that Latinas must immediately or even in the short term be represented at that level across all organizations is naïve and just nonsensical. But there is a lot of room for progress between .3% and 18%!

Behind the numbers

Education: The National Center for Education Statistics reports that in 2013 94% of White 25- to 29-year-olds had received at least a high school diploma or its equivalent while the number for Hispanics was 76%. For Hispanics, achievement has increased 14% points in just ten years, but there does remain a significant gap. The percentage of 25- to 29-year-olds who had attained a bachelor’s or higher degree was 40% for Whites and only 16% for Hispanics.

Age: The UC Davis study showed that the average age of women directors is 59 years old. The Latino community skews far younger than the average population. According to Pew Hispanic Research the average age of Hispanics in California is 27, while the average age for non-Hispanic Whites is 44.

The pool of Latinas qualified (ie: time in position and education) for corporate leadership is statistically smaller than for many other demographics. But that isn’t an excuse and doesn’t tell the entire story.

The number of Latinas starting businesses is a frequently discussed number. According to the 2007 Census (the most recent data available) there were 205,309 Latina owned businesses in California. HOWEVER, only 11,440 of those (or 5.5%) actually had employees, versus over 12% of companies owned by Hispanic men and 20% of all businesses in California.

Latinas aren’t “starting businesses” in the sense of buying plant and equipment and developing a scalable venture. They are leaving their employers to become self-employed “businesses” of one. At what cost to their previous employers (experience and training) and themselves (long-term net-worth)? A major issue mentioned when women leave to form their own venture is work / life balance. So we must also ask, to what benefit to themselves and their families?

Action Items

HOPE’s 2009 report made recommendations in three areas: Corporate, Education, and Individuals that merit revisiting. My summary:

  • Corporate: stop the talent drain by creating an environment where bright, ambitious people want to stay, develop, and thrive.
  • Education: focus on curriculum that are relevant to real career opportunities. Encourage all capable students to participate in math and science courses.
  • Individuals: Seek out a mentor and develop peer support groups. The women of HOPE are a good start! But also keep in mind that the best mentor may not necessarily be another Latina. BE a mentor to others. Be bold, take a chance, learn from mistakes, and keep moving forward.

In 10 years (as I noted earlier) Hispanic educational achievement has made dramatic progress. I am confident that, with focus and effort, the same dramatic progress can be accomplished in corporate America. The result will be a more robust and internationally competitive business community benefitting our families, communities, California, and the United States of America.

Note: The opinions herein are solely my own and do not necessarily represent HOPE, its staff, or Board of Directors.

About the Author:

Mary Jean (MJ) Duran, HLI Class of 1999, is a communications and public policy consultant. She has worked for world class brands including Xerox, PepsiCo, and Disneyland, was a Presidential appointee to the US Small Business Administration, and has served on numerous non-profit boards. Ms. Duran earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Saint Mary’s College of California and earned her MBA from Georgetown University.