Latino Leaders in Philanthropy on Bridging Resource Gaps

Jun 13, 2024

While philanthropy fuels the work of community-based nonprofits, Latino-serving organizations face a stark funding and leadership gap. Despite representing nearly 20% of the U.S. population:

We spoke with three Latino leaders, all LLI alumni, on the frontlines of philanthropy and asked them: As a Latino/a leader, what challenges and opportunities do you see in connecting communities to resources?

Read their perspectives from behind the scenes.

We Need More Diverse Leadership in Philanthropy To Bridge the Gap Between Resources and Need.

“As Latine leaders in philanthropy, we are constantly navigating systems of oppression and inequity that restrict resources. In my role at Hispanics in Philanthropy, for example, I’ve learned how over the past four decades, less than 1% of all philanthropic dollars in the U.S. have gone to Latine-serving nonprofits despite the incredible growth of our population. We know that leadership decisions and outdated internal policies, which, despite being well-intentioned, ultimately harm and affect the distribution of resources. To change this, we need diverse and multiracial leadership in positions of power and decision-making, bringing essential cultural competence alongside professional and lived experiences. This will enable us to build a bridge of understanding between the philanthropic sector and Latine communities – and ultimately bridge the gap between need and resources.”

Brenda Burgos
VP, Partnerships & Development
Hispanics in Philanthropy
LLI Graduate


We Must Trust the Leaders Closest to the Work.

“As a Latina in philanthropy and a long-time nonprofit executive director, my lived experience results in a unique perspective when it comes to connecting community needs with resources. The day-to-day challenges of leading community-based organizations are complex and compounded by chronic philanthropic underinvestment in efforts led by and serving people of color. To bridge this gap, philanthropy must listen to and trust the needs and potential solutions identified by the people closest to the work, transform approaches and processes to reflect this trust, and introduce practices that seek to decentralize power. Investments also need to go beyond standard grant-making and include resources to develop and sustain leaders, build infrastructure and capacity, and cultivate relationships and partnerships rooted in abundance, not scarcity.”

Sonya Ulibarri
Chief Impact Officer
Latino Community Foundation of Colorado
LLI Graduate


Philanthropy Can Help Lead in Building Equitable Futures for All.

Investing in the leadership and capacity of Latino-serving organizations, promoting long-term sustainability, mobilizing resources, focusing on systemic change and supporting grassroots movements are the most promising approaches to creating an equitable future for Latinos. Organizations like Philanthropy Colorado have long-standing commitments to strengthening connections between grant makers and those leading on the ground, setting the table for Colorado’s philanthropic community to be at the forefront. If philanthropy continues to innovate and focus its energy on best-practices to build up Latino-serving organizations, we can move closer to an equitable future for all.”

Noah Atencio
Philanthropy Colorado
LLI Graduate


In Conclusion:

These perspectives shared by Latino leaders in philanthropy shed light on the pressing need to bridge the funding and leadership gap facing Latino-serving organizations. As philanthropic leaders, they emphasize the importance of having more Latinos and people of color in decision-making positions to bring forth cultural competence and lived experiences, ultimately facilitating a deeper connection between resources and the needs of communities. By centering diverse voices and through investments in leadership development, sustainable practices, systemic change, and grassroots community-based work, the philanthropic sector can propel toward a more inclusive and just future where all communities thrive.