Nonprofits and fundraising in the Latino community

Part one of a two-part series

An interview with Cynthia Magallon Puljic

Philanthropy is philanthropy and fundraising is fundraising, right? We’re not so sure. Wanting to know more about philanthropy and fundraising within the Latino community we talked with Cynthia Magallon Puljic to learn her thoughts and observations.

Cynthia Magallon Puljic

Magallon Puljic has deep experience in the nonprofit sector, having worked for the YMCA for over 32 years as a vice president. She has served on the board of Latino Memphis, as President of the University District Business Alliance, and as Commissioner for Memphis City Beautiful. Other leadership roles include membership on the Deans Leadership Council for the University of Tennessee College of Health Sciences; Shelby County Greenprint Committee; Memphis MPO Active Transportation Advisory Committee; and the Shelby County Health Department MAPP Committee.

We started our conversation by asking Magallon Puljic what fundraising and philanthropy look like in the Latino community. We wanted to know if giving is primarily personal (between families and within the community and church) or if there is also a focus on supporting nonprofits.

“In many ways, fundraising is similar for most non-profits, where quite a bit of the donated support comes from charitable foundations who share similar goals and want to support a 501 c 3 who can help them reach their aim.  Individual donations are less than we would find as most Latin countries do not offer the same tax exemptions as the US, which helps create an individual culture of giving,” she shared.

Magallon Puljic reminded us that when it comes to serving and working with the Latino community “best results always come from using a culturally competent work force, who is primarily Latino, who look like who we serve and relate to the conditions and circumstances which our community is faced with and come from.  You of course can find exceptional staff that are not Latino but have empathy, listen skillfully and are bilingual. “

She asked us to remember similarities and differences across cultures when it comes to fundraising, philanthropy and charity, “We all want to thrive, see our children succeed, have financial security, live without fear and have equitable treatment. Most Latinos will be happy to take care of and help each other and have a strong bond to the Catholic Church but might not be in the habit of giving to organizations. So the fundraising request needs to be personal.”

She made us aware of the organization UnidosUS which represents 56 million people and helps pull Latinos together in advocacy. UnidosUS serves the Hispanic community through research, policy analysis, and state and national advocacy efforts, as well as through program work in communities nationwide. The organization has a national network of nearly 300 affiliates across the country serving millions of Latinos in the areas of civic engagement, civil rights and immigration, education, workforce and the economy, health, and housing.

“The priorities of Latino-serving nonprofits within the US are education, advocacy and justice. The climate is filled with fear and anger, heartbreak and families ripped apart.  Therefore the need for increased advocacy.  We need to be the loud voice for those we serve as they cannot speak for themselves alone. Yes, this will risk alienating some funders, but it is what we have to do.”

Our conversation will continue next week!

UnidosUS website:

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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