Hispanics in Philanthropy Building capacity for NC’s Latino-led nonprofits

Social Justice and Equity | by Ben Barge

In August, Hispanic in Philanthropy’s (HIP) North Carolina Funders Collaborative for Strong Latino Communities launched its latest round of funding. This iteration, the Collaborative’s fourth in the last twelve years, centers on building leadership and advocacy skills in organizations and communities, as well as providing expanded training and networking opportunities for grantees. This focus emerged out of funder observations and grantee feedback gathered in the last year.  

For those unfamiliar with Hispanics in Philanthropy, HIP is a transnational network comprised of more than 500 grantmakers and philanthropists dedicated to increasing resources for the Latino community and for Latin American nonprofit organizations, enhancing Latino philanthropic participation, and fostering equitable, inclusive policy change. As HIP’s largest and most active state-level program, the NC Collaborative has leveraged almost five million dollars to build the capacity of nearly 60 Latino-led and -serving nonprofits in North Carolina since its inception in 2002. The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation plays a unique role within the Collaborative by providing statewide dollars to match local foundation funds, thereby drawing a larger match of national HIP dollars into the state. 

Each new phase of HIP funding offers a chance for the Collaborative to revisit and rethink its focus. To that end, in anticipation of the fourth round, I had the privilege of conducting interviews with 20 of the 29 organizations (ranging in budget size from $36,000 to $1.3 million) that had received HIP NC Collaborative funds in the last three years. The organizations’ feedback, compiled in a report entitled “Todos Oídos: The HIP Listening Project,” suggested that the HIP NC Collaborative plays a key role in supporting the growth and maturation of Latino-led nonprofits across the state. On the whole, grantees appreciate the flexibility within the Collaborative’s capacity building focus, and they frequently rely on the accessibility and the expertise of HIP’s North Carolina staff. At the same time, grantees desire longer, larger, and more predictable grant awards; a greater range of technical assistance to meet the varied needs of the field; and deeper opportunities for connection and collaboration with their nonprofit peers across the state.

The Collaborative has structured this new round of funding to address some of these concerns. Phase Four grants will last for 18 months, rather than twelve. In addition, the funding process is designed to better target resources towards organizations’ diverse needs. New applicants, for example, will be eligible for funding that addresses a broad, basic array of capacity building needs, while funding for veteran applicants and grantees will focus on leadership development and civic engagement efforts. A significant portion of Phase Four dollars also will be devoted to expanding networking and technical assistance resources available to applicant organizations. These opportunities, which may range from one-on-one coaching to group trainings, peer learning, and regional gatherings, will be driven by survey feedback and input from a committee that includes past and current grantees. Facilitating these relationships may, as one grantee suggested, help “create a greater sense of momentum” for a movement in which each organization represents “an important piece of the larger puzzle.”

The strength of the connection between HIP NC staff and grantees is unique and all-too-rare. As one HIP grantee noted in the “Todos Oídos” report, “it was probably one of the most uplifting experiences – to be able to speak . . . very openly [about things] that you normally would not say to other funders.” As the Collaborative experiments with new models, it is encouraging that listening remains an important value.

ZSR is proud to partner with HIP to support a better future for North Carolina’s Latino communities. As the HIP NC Collaborative explores new directions, we look forward to discovering where this path may lead. 

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