Affiliate Support Program: Increasing resiliency at the UnidosUS Fall Convening
In 2021, Raza Development Fund kicked off an Affiliate Support Program (ASP) aimed at helping UnidosUS affiliate non-profit organizations navigate pandemic challenges and increase their capacity for growth. This program was led by Eric Salazar, RDF’s late Familia member who served as our Director of UnidosUS Affiliated Investments. After he passed away unexpectedly in June of 2022, RDF’s partners at the San Juan Diego Institute (SJDI), who had worked closely with Eric providing technical assistance, stepped up to ensure ASP’s impactful work continued. In this capacity, Dr. Ryan Hanning, SJDI Fellow and ASP technical assistance provider, attended last month’s UnidosUS Fall Convening in Nashville to connect with affiliates. Read his recap below.
By Dr. Ryan Hanning, SJDI Fellow and ASP technical assistance provider
On October 6, 2022 in Nashville, over 50 leaders from 41 UnidosUS Affiliates met for the first Fall Convening in over two years.
This gathering was extra poignant and meaningful due to the long hiatus of connecting in-person as a result of the pandemic. In addition to reconnecting with old friends, directors of diverse Latino-serving non-profit organizations shared the lessons learned as well as strategies for moving forward stronger than before. The Convening theme of Sustainability and Resiliency deeply resonated with the reality faced by many affiliates who were the on the front line of COVID-19 response in their areas and are now discerning how to continue to provide services that were largely expanded during the pandemic.
Affiliates from 12 states who represent various social service and community development organizations as well as schools and federally qualified health centers shared how they responded to the various challenges facing the Latino community. Mauricio Calvo from Latino Memphis offered a panel discussion on Service Integration and led an exercise in peer consulting which matched up leaders from various organizations to discuss problems and potential solutions. Lynn English from English Hudson Consulting gave a presentation on The Art & Science of Fundraising focusing particularly on using good data for storytelling and making the case for support.
All of the presenters during the convening illustrated the importance of technical competency in organizational development and sustainability, which highlighted the need for programs like ASP.
ASP Connect with Affiliates
Carlos de Quesada, who is leading the ASP Program as an SJDI fellow in the interim, and I were invited to present and share insights from the past 24 months of work with over 20 ASP participants across the country.
In a panel discussion with Stacey Johnson CEO from La Paz Chattanooga, and Debbie Ortiz, Interim CEO and President of AAMA (Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans), Carlos discussed the importance of good financial analysis in making sound program and strategic decisions. He mentioned affiliates can improve the impact of their missions with a better understanding of their financial and operating metrics, creating board-level dashboards, being intentional about the work to undertake, and using data to inform better strategic and program decisions. These tools lead to improved organizational governance, management and overall understanding of how financial operations impact enterprise resiliency.
Carlos made a strong appeal for the importance of good financial stewardship and practices as the tool for more sustainable funding and advancing the mission while making a more compelling case for support from donors, foundation and other key stakeholder groups. This support is an essential part of every nonprofit’s financial stewardship directive. It’s important to recognize that nonprofits are in the business of helping people while also needing to operate with continuity and intentionality.
The ASP program offers affiliate organizations with the technical assistance to ensure that they are able to fulfill and expand their missions. Carlos and I are proud to continue this work developed by our late friend Eric Salazar. It was Eric’s commitment to an asset-based approach sought to bring solutions that helped leaders and their organizations to truly empower those they served. His service at UnidosUS and RDF left an indelible impression, and his legacy continues in the work of ASP today.
We look forward to serving another cohort of incredible UnidosUS Affiliates in the next year helping them build their capacity to sustainably serve and impact their communities.