Since kicking off the new year and settling into 2023’s goals, you have hopefully found some downtime to catch up on your favorite TV shows. Perhaps you’ve recently seen Netflix’s Wednesday, which shattered the streaming service’s record for the most hours viewed in a week for an English-language series.
A recipe for the show’s success can easily be attributed to it being directed by the acclaimed Tim Burton. However, viewers are saluting the flawless portrayal of Wednesday Addams by Mexican-Puerto Rican American Jenna Ortega and a diverse cast. In 2020 Netflix commissioned a first-of-its-kind diversity study of its on-screen content to analyze the makeup of its talent and the behind-the-camera creators, producers, writers and directors. The final report revealed opportunities to close diversity gaps. As a result, the company committed to diversifying its cast and content with underrepresented communities such as the Latinx community.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Hispanic population accounts for 19 percent of Americans, so it was smart of Netflix to cast all but one of the Addams family members with Latinx actors to appeal to this ever-growing community.
Only two years later, with Wednesday, Netflix’s investment in diversifying on-screen talent and content has paid off. So, how does this relate to nonprofits and fundraising?
Research from the Pew Research Center projects the Latino population to grow to 107 million, making up 24 percent of the U.S. population by 2065. Not only are Hispanics one of the fastest-growing populations, but Latinos have a purchasing power of more than $1.9 trillion. Commercial consumer package goods companies and streaming platforms, like Netflix, are reaping the benefits from Hispanic-targeted marketing campaigns and content. And recently, a National Household survey conducted by the Lilly Foundation showed that approximately 67 percent of Hispanic Americans reported charitable monetary giving, in line with national averages.
For nonprofits, these are astounding numbers – not just because of the enormous volume but because Hispanic donors are generous. Further research has shown that Hispanic giving closely matches Caucasians, the nation’s largest donor group, especially among English-speaking Latinx individuals. They are also twice as likely as the average American to say they would give more if asked.
Hispanic cultural competency is essential in building trust with the Hispanic audience, which is vital in developing a successful Hispanic fundraising program. As a high-context culture, Hispanics are predominantly collectivists – they tend to put their individualistic needs to the side and emphasize the collective harmonious existence and needs of their community. Understanding identity/terminology, core values, media consumption, language preferences and unique multicultural characteristics within the Hispanic community is key to building trust through culturally relevant fundraising campaigns. Here are four best practices when expanding into the Hispanic market.
- Identity & Terminology: Hispanic vs. Latino vs. Latinx vs. Latine
Having to adapt culturally as immigrants and minorities, Hispanic Americans firmly believe in preserving and cultivating their cultural heritage. Research from Collage Group finds cultural duality is Hispanic Americans’ reality as they feel strong personal connections to both their cultural heritage and American identity, daily navigating both cultures with cultural fluidity of ease and authenticity.
How any subgroup identifies is of the utmost importance when addressing them in any fundraising communications. As Ivis Garcia writes in the Journal of the American Planning Association, the ethnonym “Hispanic” is a language-derived term and comes from the Spanish term Hispania, which originated during the Nixon administration in the 1970s to better classify Spanish-speaking non-immigrants and immigrants alike. “Latino” is geography-derived and refers to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, which include Portuguese, French, and Spanish-speaking countries. Latinx and Latine are new ethnonyms created to be more gender inclusive and non-binary; the latter preserves the linguistic norms of the Spanish language, per Paloma Vigil in the Yale Daily News. Although the US Census Bureau and the Pew Research Center use both terms, Hispanic and Latino, interchangeably – understanding the differences is the first step in building a successful Hispanic, Latino, or Latinx/Latine fundraising program.
- Core Values
If you watched Disney’s 2017 animated film Coco, you would get a sense that family is fundamental for the Mexican subgroup and overall Hispanic population. Per Paramount Insights, U.S. Hispanics identify with four key cultural values: family, faith, food and music.
Family is their foundation; it is where they are rooted and the core of who they are. Faith heavily influences their altruistic behavior, helps them persevere through challenging times and inspires them to serve their community and their loved ones especially. Food is the focal point of all Hispanic family gatherings, from the traditions of cooking in the kitchen to sitting down together and sharing memories that inspire laughter while enjoying a meal. For Hispanics, music gives color to life; it is the outlet to express every type of sentiment through emotionally charged lyrics and passionate dancing. Truly understanding Hispanics’ four core values is instrumental in creating effective and engaging fundraising campaigns that genuinely appeal to their heartstrings.
- Media Consumption & Language Preference
Hispanic media consumption and language preferences span various traditional and digital media channels. An estimated 60 percent of Hispanics are digital natives, and 78 percent of U.S. Hispanic households have at least one streaming device. Data shows that the Hispanic audience adopts new technologies rapidly, favoring certain channels and social media platforms over others but continuing to be heavy radio listeners.
Although the Spanish language and cultural connection are critical to U.S. Hispanic identity and lifestyle, it is important to be aware that not all Hispanics speak Spanish and not all Spanish-speaking Hispanics speak Spanish everywhere. Since 2000, the growth of the Hispanic population has come more from U.S. births than immigration, with U.S.-born Hispanics outnumbering foreign-born Hispanics by more than two to one per the Migration Policy Institute. As a result, this has increased the number of bilingual households, reaching almost 50 percent in 2020 per Pew Research.
- Hispanics’ Unique Multicultural Characteristics
The common misperception is that the Hispanic population is a monolithic ethnic group. Distinctions among the Hispanic population include whether they are U.S. or foreign born and their country of origin. Hispanics encompass 20 Spanish-speaking nations from Latin America and Spain. Although they share the same cultural core values, each subgroup is unique. An important distinction is the differences in communication styles amongst each subgroup. Knowing your target Hispanic audience clarifies how to communicate in your Hispanic fundraising campaigns and helps find broad-reaching vocabulary that inspires all Hispanic subgroups to donate.
Once you’re culturally competent, the overarching omnichannel communication strategy for your Hispanic Fundraising program should focus on:
- Executing direct response campaigns with correct grammar and tense consistency;
- Ensuring context is continuously relational and at the forefront of every campaign message;
- Monitoring and addressing tonality with soft and gratitude-filled keywords;
- Conveying authenticity through culturally relevant imagery and emotionally appealing language; and,
- Maintaining donor-centric fundraising messaging from beginning to end within each campaign.
It is important to remember that a successful Hispanic Fundraising Program requires time and investment to build trust and loyalty with the Hispanic population. During a CNBC interview, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos accurately said, “I think the way people can connect with content, with a great movie or a great series, is that they see something of themselves in that, either that it’s very relatable, that it might look like them, or it reflects a life experience that they’ve also experienced.”
Fundraisers have an enormous opportunity to authentically engage with the Hispanic population and convert them into loyal, long-term donors. Just as Netflix has increased its diversification initiatives as part of its audience viewership strategy, nonprofits can leverage their diversity initiatives and authentically appeal to the Hispanic audience with culturally relevant fundraising campaigns that truly resonate to achieve Wednesday-level success.