Top 10 characteristics of the Hispanic donor

By Damaris Montalvo

For all the talk about Hispanic marketing, there’s very little discussion about Hispanic fundraising. What fundraisers know about the Hispanic market often comes from the commercial sector:

• There are 53 million residents of Hispanic origin in the United States (1 in every 6), representing the fastest growing demographic in the country.
• The purchasing power of Latino consumers is incrementally increasing.
• Hispanics have a strong proclivity for digital – especially mobile and social – and are early adopters of new technologies.
• Consumer trends vary by language preference, generation breakdown, and geography.

But what do we know about Hispanic¹ donors? And how can we use these learnings to grow our fundraising programs?

The list below of the top 10 characteristics of Hispanic donors comes largely from Russ Reid’s Heart of the Donor research study (conducted in partnership with Grey Matter Research & Consulting), as well as other industry research and in-market nonprofit case studies.

1. Hispanic donors are generous. Latinos represent a sizeable group of donors whose annual average giving is healthy, and whose generosity levels are right on par with the largest donor group: Caucasians. English-speaking Latinos will donate larger average gifts, mirroring monetary contributions by English-speaking Caucasians. Spanish-speaking Latinos will donate slightly lower average gifts, but these contributions represent a higher proportion of their HHI. For example, if Caucasians give 1% of their HHI to charitable contributions, Spanish-speaking Latinos will give 1.2% of their HHI.

2. Hispanic donors yield great long-term donor value (LTDV), while typically acquired at half the cost of their English-language counterparts. Because this market is still largely untapped by nonprofits, media buys can be more affordable. For example, Operation Smile has built a large Hispanic donor file – 15% of which is composed of sustainers. These donors have a LTDV that’s on par with English-speaking donors, and depending on the channel, their cost-per-acquisition (CPA) is either equal to or half as expensive as their English counterparts.

3. 61% of Hispanic donors make spur-of-the-moment giving decisions. Only 39% of Hispanics donors plan in advance which organizations they will support and how much to contribute. This learning is ripe with promise, for as long as you’re “fishing where the fish are,” with the right offer and the right message, you are likely to capture their attention – especially in a market that isn’t yet overly saturated.

4. 72% of Latinos speak Spanish at home. If Hispanics are more comfortable with English, they’re consuming media in English and are likely part of your donor file already. But if they’re speaking Spanish at home and their mothers, fathers, and tías are watching Spanish-language TV, listening to Spanish-language radio, or following mami blogueras online, you’re leaving money on the table if you don’t pursue Spanish-language media.

5. Hispanics use at least 3 or 4 channels to give. While non-Hispanics will use an average of 2 or 3 channels to give, Hispanics will use 3 to 4, choosing whichever channel is the most convenient at the point of interest. Multi-channel strategies enable them to respond through several means.

6. Hispanics are 50% more likely than non-Hispanics to participate in monthly giving programs. Spanish-speaking Latinos typically display generosity through frequent, multiple “lower” dollar gifts, with the cumulative amount representing a higher proportion of their HHI. This makes Hispanics prime candidates for a sustainer program (assuming you present a strong offer).

7. Hispanics are 5 times more likely than non-Hispanics to list TV, radio, and primary channels. For nonprofits looking to acquire Hispanic sustainers, direct response television (DRTV) has proven to be a successful platform when the offer is strong. But for those looking to acquire single gift Hispanic donors, direct mail and digital have also proven successful. Operation Smile recently tested a direct mail acquisition campaign that yielded nearly a 1% response rate with an average gift on par with the English control. Spanish-language SEM and display strategies have worked for several organizations, yielding strong ROIs – and a lower media cost.

8. 38% of Hispanic donors are likely to support a brand new organization each year. This finding is not surprising, given that Hispanics make spur-of-the-moment giving decisions. So with a strategic, multi-channel presence, you’re providing ample opportunity to grab a new donor’s attention – and ample options to convert that interest into action.

9. Credit and debit card usage among Hispanics is growing. While credit card (CC) usage decreased 7% for non-Hispanics from 2004-2011², CC usage increased 23% for Hispanics, and debit card usage increased 115%. In Hispanic households where credit and debit card usage are common, household income is 2.5 times higher than average.

10. Social media is key. In Hispanic fundraising, social is the prime information center about your organization. Latinos investigate a new cause by seeking input from others. What people (and not just watchdogs) say about your organization matters. In addition to friends and family, the opinions of donors, nonprofit employees, and social media followers are important. New and existing donors will weigh social information heavily in making their first gift – and any gifts thereafter.

Damaris “Dama” Montalvo is a nonprofit professional with deep experience in Hispanic marketing and fundraising. She joined Russ Reid in 2008 to grow a donor base of US Hispanic donors for the largest and most well-known charity in Mexico: Teletón. Since then, Dama has served nonprofits through multi-channel fundraising strategies in English and Spanish, including KCET, Paws With A Cause, Operation Smile, American Red Cross, and many more. Past marketing experience in the commercial sector includes Azteca América, Azteca Mobile, Banco Azteca, and Curaçao.

¹“Hispanic” generally refers to language of origin or preference, specifically Spanish. “Latino” generally refers to geography, alluding to country of origin or history. For the purposes of this article, “Hispanic” will be the term most frequently used, referring to Spanish-language marketing, as opposed to English-language communications.


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