Crisis and community – nonprofits and fundraising in the Latino community

An interview with Cynthia Magallon Puljic

Part two of a two-part series

Crisis and community – nonprofits and fundraising in the Latino community An interview with Cynthia Magallon PuljicContrary to what we may read in the papers or see on TV, Latinos are not all “illegal, uneducated, and in need of help.”

Yes, there is a heart breaking crisis on the border with Mexico. Children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras are being separated from their parents, the suffering is real, and the outcry is loud.

Cynthia Magallon Puljic shared her experience as a Latino woman with us. “It is frightening to read the negative comments on Facebook especially when it comes to seeing children separated from their parents. Yet there are people – women – who are speaking from their hearts and not from politics. Both first lady Melania Trump and former first lady Laura Bush have spoken out. I am so proud of them for showing their humanity. Who wants to see us losing our children and our humanity?”

Magallon Puljic reminded us that the impact of current policies extends to Hispanics who have been here for generations. “This is a painful time for all of us…. My dad came here when he was a couple of years old. We have been here for 85 years.” Commenting on her life in New Mexico, she shares her perspective, “My neighborhood is full of people who have lived in the same homes and run the same farms for hundreds of years. For a lot of us, we have never felt so unwelcome… we were born here, this is our home, we thought we were an asset.”

When watching images on television and listening to stories – and stereotypes – it is important to remember the basics: Latinos are “family centered, good and hardworking.” These facts can get swept from consciousness during times of crisis.

It is time to remember that all of us should care about issues that impact Latinos. “They” are “our” neighbors. We live together. Our children go to school together. We work together. Latino immigrants work in our homes and businesses. Thinking about “us” and “them” increases divisions and keeps us from each other. And, Magallon Puljic reminds us, “We are quickly becoming the majority minority, and want to become active and contributing members of the larger society.  Welcome us.”

When it comes to the nonprofit sector – and fundraising – there is a lot of welcoming everyone can do. Here are four things to consider.

  1. Make a gift – now – to an organization in your community
  2. Consider volunteering your time, talent and resources. Call and ask “How can I help?”
  3. If you are experienced – or willing to learn – consider board service, or a role on an advisory council
  4. If you can influence gifts or grants, do so.

“If I look at a lot of nonprofits – no matter who leads them – they are serving marginalized communities. These are Latinos. And yet we are not represented in leadership and decision making roles. There are times when leadership cannot relate to the issues and circumstances in our lives. Most of the nonprofits are run by Caucasian males in their fifties. We will need more staff of color in decision-making roles. We need to pull together to ensure that our staff have the support they need to grow and move into leadership,” Magallon Puljic said.

In the midst of today’s crisis there is real hope for the future. “There are a lot of great young people coming up. Social media is really powerful and it will continue getting people involved and the sector growing. Young people get very involved with social media and they are willing to speak out.

“Things are better now than from when I started in the sector, but capacity is still limited. There are a lot more females getting into running nonprofits. This is a nurturing business and it is rewarding to see women’s leadership. It is better for Latinos too than it used to be. But if you are in a leadership position you have to work hard and make hard decisions and choices. Running a nonprofit is very demanding.”

Cynthia Magallon Puljic currently serves as the senior director of operations at Latino Memphis. Contact her via LinkedIn or by email at

Copyright 2018 – Mel and Pearl Shaw

Mel and Pearl Shaw appreciate the diversity of our community, county and the world. There’s always something new to learn and someone new to meet. Visit us at


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