It’s 2010! One year closer to 2050, the year Hispanics become the majority in the U.S. If you’re not engaging Hispanics in your work; as volunteers, leaders, donors or board members; 2010 is a great year to start. It’s time nonprofit advocates (yes, I’m one of them) recognize the population shift and how these changes will impact communities across America. As of 2008, Latinos became the nation’s largest ethnic minority (*46.9 million) and by July 1, 2050, *132.8 million Hispanics will live in the U.S. That’s 30% of the U.S population! (*U.S. Census Bureau)
So let’s get started with Hispanic Engagement.
Hispanic Engagement is a process of building community, relationships, & trust with Hispanic communities. Hispanic Engagement utilizes authentic engagement strategies that create advocates for people, neighborhoods & issues within communities. It is an inclusive, innovative & culturally relevant approach that informs, educates, engages & strengthens communities.
That’s my official definition but let me make it easier for you. Enclosed are five strategies that will help your organization engage Hispanics in 2010.
Building relationships with Hispanics is not much different than building relationships with other groups. When you build authentic relationships with Hispanics, treat them as valued stakeholders and keep their needs in mind. Once the trust is built, they will support you and open doors for you and your organization. Keep in mind that we like our platicas so get to know us first before you engage us in the business at hand.
Hispanics are as diverse as the American melting pot; we have varied traditions and experiences. One thing we have in common is that we value culture; and not one culture fits all. Hispanics born and raised in the U.S. will have different experiences from newly arrived immigrants from Mexico, Central or even South America. A Latino living in Los Angeles will have different cultural traditions from other Latinos living in Miami, Houston and yes, even Akron, Ohio.
Go to la gente
Find out where Latinos live; where they gather and go to them. Hispanics live in rural and urban areas, Latino neighborhoods and they gather in places they trust. Do some research, show up and start building relationships.
Forge relationships (notice a common theme?) with organizations deep-rooted in Hispanic communities. Learn from organizations that were founded in Latino communities and ones that have built trust with this population (i.e Hispanic professional groups, Catholic Diocese, LULAC, El Concilio, NCLR, etc.)
Be a resource
It takes two to form the relationship. Nonprofits have needs and so do Hispanics. Take the time to listen & understand what the needs, wants and aspirations are for Hispanic communities. Ask yourselves, “How can I be a resource for Hispanics in my community?” By helping and being a resource, you’re showing that you care about this community and you’ll create advocates along the way.
I hope these five Hispanic Engagement strategies will help you get started. Muchisima suerte en 2010!