Conference Roundup: Reaching the Hispanic Population
Latinos tend to think with the right side of their brain — the section that focuses on emotion, intuition, creativity and vision — and fundraisers need to keep that in mind when they’re trying to get donations from the Hispanic community, said Michael Saray, president of New York-based Michael Saray Hispanic Marketing during the session “How Do You Listen to Different Ethnic Communities? Fundraising in the Hispanic Market” at the 2008 New York Nonprofit Conference last week.
“It is important to understand that, in general, Latinos are culturally hard wired differently,” Saray said.
He explained that fundraisers need to adjust the basic factors of marketing to accommodate the wide variety of language and customs within the Hispanic demographic.
“Americans expect an answer up front followed by supporting arguments,” he said. “Latin Americans first give the supporting arguments that lead down to the answer. This is not a language issue; it’s actually an issue that is strongly influenced by what is considered a persuasive argument in each region.”
When reaching out to the Hispanic community, Saray said, it’s important to remember these general guidelines.
1. The family is always important. In the Hispanic culture, Saray said, parents value their children’s health above their own; they make their relatives’ problems a priority; and one of their most important goals in life is to have children.
2. “Free” or “Gratis” is a very powerful word.
3. Avoid blatant overuse of numbers — “you want to reach the heart, not the left brain.”
4. Emphasize the 800 number.
5. Outbound telemarketing may be a very viable option.
6. Hispanics are cynical and skeptical.
7. Word of mouth is very powerful.
8. Hispanics love to be courted.
A launch into the Hispanic market is essential to any organization’s survival, Saray said, but it’s not something that can happen without proper planning and thought.
If an organization is considering a push into the Hispanic market, fundraisers need to be aware of these sorts of thoughts/comments from within:
* “Just translate the stuff we have.”
* “Those people don’t have enough money.”
* “Make the tests as cheap as possible.”
* “If the test doesn’t work, that’s it.”
* “We don’t have a budget for this.”
* “We’ll use Maria Gonzales from accounting to translate.”
* “We can’t afford to adapt back-end infrastructure right now.”
* “We tried that before … ”
Fundraisers also need to be aware of signs of deep ignorance or insensitivity to cultural differences — all of which can point to a disaster.
“If you hear those things, push harder, ask for a transfer or quit,” Saray said. “It’s hard and mistakes will be made, but [the Hispanic community] is essential to the future.”