Latinos and Philanthropy: A Movement in the Making



What is the Latina Giving Circle of the Latino Community Foundation of San Francisco?

Well, it’s a group of women who love humankind. Furthermore, the Circle is a formal program of the Latino Community Foundation, and it benefits from staff’s support and their grant-making expertise. This is an intergenerational group of highly accomplished women representing a swath of professions, including banking, high tech, philanthropy, the non-profit sector, and fundraising, to name a few fields. Focused on identity-based philanthropy, we have committed ourselves and our financial and other resources to support Latino causes in our communities. In this manner, we have studied and identified the issues and causes we will support; developed our giving guidelines and grant application processes; and made grants to local non-profits for two consecutive years. Further, we have begun planning for future grants in the areas of family education, financial empowerment, and leadership development.

A news flash:

A grant from the Kellogg Foundation now enables the Latino Community Foundation to expand the Latina Giving Circle statewide, across California.  The goal is to involve a total of 300 Latinas in key areas of the state. Beyond the first and current Circle in San Francisco, the Foundation will establish additional Circles in Northern California, with a focus on Alameda, Pleasanton, Marin County and Silicon Valley. In Southern California, the first targeted city is San Diego; more to come later on. Each Circle will identify the issues and causes it will address –a trademark approach of this campaign for expansion.

Efforts to mobilize communities and resources across diverse regions in California through Giving Circles represent the latest in the Latino Community Foundation’s strategic tactic to democratize philanthropy. This case serves as an example of how philanthropic institutions can become more inclusive and nimble. These entities have opportunities to foster collective giving, demystify philanthropy and grant-making, and create greater engagement for broader communities.

An optimist 

I am a declared optimist, not to be confused with being Pollyanna, nor is it to claim we’ve achieved philanthropic nirvana. In fact, there is a lot of work to be done for the Latino community in the San Francisco Bay Area and across the nation. However, the Latina Giving Circle’s collective vision, coupled with its unrelenting dedication and a heightened sense of opportunity pave the way for strategic philanthropic effectiveness here in the Bay Area and across California.

The democratization of philanthropy is well underway in the form of Giving Circles in general, and the Latina Giving Circle in particular. We already have new San Francisco Circle members since I joined last month, and Alameda’s recent informational session gathered close to 70 Latinas ready to get involved, give their money and other resources and work collectively towards a shared vision.

I’ll walk into that same conference room next month, and I know I’ll feel that collective reverberating enthusiasm. Yes, I am optimist –and evidenced-based one.

To conclude, a call to action: I’ve been thinking … why limit celebrations to just one month a year? Instead, let’s think of it as Hispanic Heritage Year –every year— and let’s act jointly through the power of collective giving.

 Related articles:

Dedicated To “Coach” Leslie Fernandez

Latino Heritage: Gratitude Achievement Purpose

Hispanic Heritage Inspiration Celebrated

Hispanic Heritage Appreciating The Best of Both

Hispanic Heritage- A Wise Man’s Life Story Lives On


Mara Perez
Mara Perez
Mara Perez, Ph.D. As Founder and Principal of Mara Perez, Fund Development and Planning Services, Mara provides fundraising and strategic planning services to non-profits. Mara has helped over seventy organizations obtain funding, design innovative work strategies, and execute growth plans. Mara holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Chicago. Community service includes: 2010-present Board Member of Marin General Hospital; 2002-2012 Board Member Canal Alliance, twice Board President; 2005 Spirit of Marin Award, Business Person of the Year; Coro Leadership Community Fellow. She has published articles about immigration, social change, and fundraising. Born in Argentina, Mara resides in California.

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