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Endowing Nonprofits — One Highly effective Solution to Advance Fairness


Endowments will be transformative for nonprofits, particularly these representing historically underserved populations and dealing to shut gaps, and deserve a better look as an efficient technique for funders to advance fairness. Latest CEP analysis reveals that funding nonprofit endowments isn’t a widespread follow. But, endowments provide monetary stability and innovation — each important for affect — and are correlated with long-term development and sustainability, which fairness work requires.

For greater than 55 years, UnidosUS (beforehand generally known as the Nationwide Council of La Raza) has been a pacesetter within the struggle for Latino civil rights, social justice, and alternative. Now we have skilled notable development since 2020: our employees has elevated by one third; we skilled three years of traditionally excessive income; and we’ve deepened our management experience. Just lately, we articulated a brand new strategic route centered on reaching far-reaching affect for Latinos by altering techniques to shut financial and social inequities for Latinos and constructing the ability of Latinos to affect and maintain these techniques accountable. This new technique is bold and requires new capacities, a shift in the way in which we take into consideration our work, and extra, versatile, and multiyear assets.

UnidosUS was capable of develop this daring technique as a result of our philanthropic companions have fostered our skill to evolve with a give attention to innovation, complexity, and affect. One component that has laid the muse for our sustainability is the institution of the Unidos Funding Fund, our endowment.

What an Endowment Enabled UnidosUS to Do

The UnidosUS endowment was seeded with an preliminary “capital depletion” grant from the Ford Basis in 2000. As a substitute of funding the group with an annual grant unfold out over a number of years, Ford offered “ahead funding” in a single tranche. Ford additionally offered substantive and technical help; for instance, they advisable that the endowment be held by a separate entity to guard the asset and offered steerage within the growth of our Funding Coverage Assertion to make sure the expansion of funds over time. UnidosUS subsequently launched a five-year Empowering an American Neighborhood Marketing campaign in November 2002 to ascertain a proper endowment and facilitate the acquisition of the UnidosUS headquarters constructing three blocks from the White Home. In 2022, the Robert Wooden Johnson Basis (RWJF) added one other main tranche of funding to the endowment.

The existence of an endowment, together with different main presents through the interval coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic, has been a significant component in UnidosUS’s skill to proceed to advance its mission by way of:

  • Crucial programmatic investments: In 2020-2021, UnidosUS’s Esperanza Hope Fund and Esperanza Hope for All enabled us to plan and launch a significant COVID-19 vaccination effort that almost eradicated the disparity in preliminary vaccine take-up charges between Latinos and others.
  • A collection of grants to UnidosUS Associates: Along with our companion, the Raza Improvement Fund, the Affiliate Help Program helped help the longer-term monetary sustainability of associates whereas concurrently addressing unexpected, unprecedented group calls for on their assets, together with advert hoc meals distribution efforts, assist with hire or utility payments, and entry to well being care.
  • Help for advocacy to develop and execute on an inclusive public response to the pandemic.
  • Room to broaden our voice and management in nationwide conversations, such because the creation of our Racial Fairness Initiative, to raise Latino views within the public discourse on racial fairness.

Throughout this time, we have been additionally capable of make necessary investments in inside capacities important to strengthening and sustaining a wholesome group, reminiscent of know-how that supported distant work and human assets. Our continued give attention to individuals administration, skilled growth, and enhancing advantages for our employees has been particularly significant in navigating office shifts.

Whereas many of those efforts have been supported by numerous sources, the security web offered by our endowment enabled UnidosUS to take extra threat, seed new efforts to fulfill vital wants with out full funding in-hand, and retain extra company in setting our agenda based mostly on the priorities of the group, relatively than funder preferences. For instance, our HOME Initiative seeks transformational change by creating 4 million new Hispanic owners by 2030.

Versatile and modern funding allowed us to assume outdoors the field and be extra strategic about leveraging UnidosUS’s voice in the simplest methods. Now we have been capable of plan for our long-term stability and nationwide management position because it turns into clearer that the nation’s future prosperity is inextricably tied to the well-being of the Latino group.

Endowments Are Not With out Problem

Nonetheless, endowments convey challenges, too. From our expertise, this has meant added complexity with the creation of a associated entity that has its personal board and requires important administration and administration consideration from government employees. It additionally means constructing monetary experience to supervise investments, decide prudent payout ranges, and constantly monitor the well being of the fund.

Endowment fundraising can even lead to decreased programmatic funding. Regardless of earlier assurances on the contrary, just a few funders have declined to think about programmatic help to UnidosUS in subsequent years on account of the big one-time reward to our endowment. Given their totally different functions, endowment funding ought to accompany — not exchange — programmatic funding. UnidosUS’s endowment has additionally imposed better accountability on administration for funding choices, since funding priorities can not be attributed to exterior funders.

This requires managers to be extra strategic and make decisions, which some nonprofit managers are unaccustomed to.

On Steadiness, Endowments to Nonprofits Can Advance Fairness

These challenges however, within the context of continued financial disparities and debates on wealth creation to stage the taking part in subject, endowment giving to efficient nonprofits will be particularly related. Greater than 20 years in the past, I edited a ebook about Latino employees. Regardless of their arduous work and main contributions to our economic system, Latinos confronted structural obstacles to upward mobility. Even now, with their standing as important to our economic system cemented, and regardless of beneficial properties, the Latino wealth hole persists. New approaches and intentions — from all sectors — are wanted to drive fairness.

Furthermore, particularly now — when the expansion of funders’ property through record-high inventory portfolios is coinciding with a big and rising record of persistent societal challenges, endowment funding to trusted grantees makes huge sense. As a substitute of increasing the variety of grant recipients when property are excessive — inevitably leading to extreme cutbacks when property contract — giant endowment presents can permit funders to fulfill their payout targets with out creating grantee expectations that can’t be met indefinitely.

That is very true for the reason that state and native authorities and company funding relied on by many nonprofits additionally tends to lower when basis and particular person donor funding contract because of financial downturns. Endowments allow trusted grantees to climate monetary storms and permit them to align their investments in keeping with their goal inhabitants’s wants and strategic route as an alternative of funder pursuits.

It’s time to be daring. Endowment investments to nonprofit organizations whose missions give attention to closing social and financial inequities, and who elevate voices nonetheless lacking from nationwide conversations about our nation’s future, signify a strong device towards constructing a extra equitable and simply society.

Sonia M. Pérez is chief working officer of UnidosUS. Discover her on LinkedIn. Charles Kamasaki contributed to this text.

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