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Ethnic Volunteering Needs a Tailored Approach

Engaging can mean many things, from financial support to helping spread word about an organization or mission. It can also mean volunteering, and sometimes enlisting volunteers can benefit from a strategic approach as much as fundraising can.

In her book “Diversity and Philanthropy,” Lilya Wagner discusses volunteering by Hispanics, which she says is growing, although it needs to be addressed on its own terms, in part because of what she sees as a perception that Hispanics are poor at volunteering.

Quoting experts, she writes that establishing formal volunteering programs in ways suitable for Hispanic cultural characteristics is paramount, and it naturally enhances a nonprofit’s community outreach and influence. Further, trying to engage volunteers from a Hispanic background requires the personal touch, and Wagner offers the following suggestions:

  • Tailor the message. Don’t just take English-language materials and translate them, thinking they will work.
  • Employ a direct approach, such as Hispanics enlisting other Hispanics for causes of mutual interest.
  • Enlist ambassadors who will talk about why volunteering is important.
  • Seek volunteers from large employers, colleges and professional associations.
  • Collaborate with local volunteer centers that already have recruiting and managing systems in place and can share skills and information.
  • Give volunteers roles that utilize their skills and passion.

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