Empowering Hispanics in Philanthropy

FIU Foundation Office of Inclusive Philanthropy event entitled,
Smilka Melgoza, Mayelin Alvarez, George Corton, Raul Moas, Elizabeth Béjar, Isaac Mizrahi, Carlos A. Batlle, Amanda L. Murphy

The FIU Foundation Office of Inclusive Philanthropy hosts panel discussion with community leaders to converse about the Hispanic presence in philanthropy

“Let’s take this national,” said George Corton. “This conversation isn’t happening at the levels that we need it to, so why not start at the most important city for Hispanics [in the US]: Miami?”

Corton, managing principal of Westside Capital Group and co-founder and advisor of the FIU Foundation Office of Inclusive Philanthropy, asked this question to open a panel discussion that considered the role of Hispanics in philanthropy.

The discussion, held at the Bacardi USA Headquarters, looked at the Hispanic presence in philanthropy from multiple angles, including the group’s collective impact potential, investment priorities, and differences in pre- and post-pandemic philanthropic mindsets. It was the second such discussion to focus on these topics, coming after the inaugural event held at the end of 2021.

Joining Corton on the panel were Mayelin Alvarez, wealth advisor, Kaufman Rossin Wealth; Carlos A. Batlle, managing director and senior wealth advisor, J.P. Morgan Private Bank; and Isaac Mizrahi, author and multicultural marketing expert.

Batlle began the conversation by pointing to the importance of legacy for the clients he sees daily.

“Legacy is something that we saw pre- and post-pandemic,” Batlle said. “There are some folks who say that the pandemic made us very aware of our sense of mortality… and that sense of mortality [has led to a] desire to make sure that their legacy carries on. Philanthropy is a huge part of that.”

Batlle also pointed to how giving priorities have changed over time as generations of Hispanics have spent more time in the U.S. Using the Cuban population as an example, Batlle suggested that while taking care of the immediate and extended family may have been the foremost concern, subsequent generations have increased financial freedom that allows them to consider “legacy” in a different sense.

The conversation then shifted to the organizational perspective. If organizations know that legacy is a front-of-mind consideration for this demographic, how do they demonstrate that they can be valuable partners in helping potential donors achieve their philanthropic goals?

Mizrahi suggested that it’s crucial for organizations to demonstrate their own charitable activity.

“Hispanics really want brands, advertisers, and corporations to give back to the community,” he said. “How can [they] make the case that every donation… gets back to the community and how the community gets stronger through this partnership? That’s the biggest opportunity.”

As the discussion continued, the panel shifted its focus back to the donor perspective and the considerations that need to be made. Among these was the benefit to be gained from strategically planning giving, as opposed to making a spontaneous gift.

“If you can incorporate philanthropy into your financial planning, then that allows for you to allocate your resources optimally without compromising your personal finance,” Alvarez said.

At the conclusion of the panel discussion, FIU Provost Elizabeth Béjar, Ph.D., introduced keynote speaker Raul Moas, senior director of the Knight Foundation. Moas and the Knight Foundation have partnered with FIU throughout the years, perhaps most notably in naming the Knight Foundation School of Computing and Information Sciences.

Focusing on his work with the Knight Foundation, Moas spoke about how his team looks for entrepreneurs, activists, or universities that can create high-impact social transformation. By providing an intimate view at what a potential donor is hoping to observe before investing in a particular cause or organization, his address was especially beneficial for all of those in the room who work in the fundraising space.

In the months to follow, the FIU Foundation Office of Inclusive Philanthropy hopes to continue this vital conversation by holding a discussion around Hispanic giving and corporate commitment to healthcare, as well as best practices related to inclusive philanthropy and fundraising.