Yesterday I had a double-hitter of informational interviews. Kelly Harrell gave me the names of two women she knows through the Triangle Community Foundation who work with the Latino community. Sandra Rodriguez is a board member for TCF and used to work at El Pueblo, one of the largest advocacy groups in North Carolina. And Diane Evia-Lanevia created the Tomorrow Fund, a scholarship and mentoring program for Hispanic high school students. I learned a lot about the atmosphere that nonprofits are working in as well as the wide range of groups in North Carolina.
National politics have a lot more of an influence on the nonprofit world than I had any idea previous. Nonprofits are usually registered as 501-c3, the tax exemption status, and usually get a majority of their funding from government grants. Well, thanks to the economic downturn and cuts in spending, a lot of this grant money is no longer available for nonprofits. This may not seem like a good job to be joining the nonprofit world, but really this is a time of transition. Nonprofits have to find ways to maximize the resources they have, find new ways of fundraising, all of which means new online marketing challenges for people like me!
The other aspect that national politics has really changed is the atmosphere that nonprofits operate in. Both Sandra and Diane have been in North Carolina for about ten years, and they’ve seen the change in attitude towards the Latino community. Now, as compared to ten years ago, there is a lot more national legislation penalizing and deporting undocumented residents. This has led to a lot more fear in the community, as opposed to the excitement and involvement with Latino issues ten years ago.
These two challenges mean that working with Latino nonprofits will not be an easy job. But challenges are what will make these organizations, and their staff, stronger, more effective agencies of change.