Latino Center for the Midlands has participated in Omaha Gives since the very beginning –this will be its eighth year. Each year, the organization has increased its number of donors and dollars raised. Last year they raised almost $16,000 during Omaha Gives, which reflects an 800% increase since year one!
Every year, they host an event, with one of the goals being to profile the rich culture of the Latino community in the Omaha metro. Executive Director, Albert Varas talks about how there are many Latinos who work in meatpacking, manufacturing, and construction—and alongside that, there is also a rich and powerful professional community, too. The organization celebrates them all. “Our power as the Latino Center began around 50 years—we are non-judgmental, have overcome our own hardships, and are here to serve the community; we’re able to highlight that through Omaha Gives.”
“Our power as the Latino Center began around 50 years—we are non-judgmental, have overcome our own hardships, and are here to serve the community; we’re able to highlight that through Omaha Gives.”
Their first giving day events were ice cream socials for members of the community in which they serve. It was a fun and successful day for everyone, reports Albert, but they wanted to get more strategic about who they were asking to support their org.
“We knew we could do more,” he said. “Just because we serve among low-income populations, doesn’t mean we should always hit them up for money.” So in 2017, they changed things up and hosted a Diversity and Inclusion Happy Hour for Latino young professionals. “We used the Omaha Gives platform to host an event to celebrate giving.”
“We used the Omaha Gives platform to host an event to celebrate giving.”
That’s when their results for the giving day really skyrocketed. They got sponsors to support the event and created a lively outdoor party with Latin-themed drinks, food, and music that showcased the richly diverse expressions of the Latino community. Last year they invited a panel of experts on diversity and inclusion to speak at the event. They also started to charge admission, so that added another revenue stream to the event. Throughout the happy hour, LCFM staff mingled with iPads to talk about Omaha Gives and social giving.
Pulling off the event was truly a group effort that brought the entire organization together. They don’t have a marketing and communications team, so all staff are involved from strategy to coordinating logistics to making centerpieces to building the stage. Albert made the playlist for the D.J.; the board of directors secured sponsorships, and volunteers helped get out the word to a diverse group of attendees.
“This is a unique event in that it’s not only a homogenous Latino group, but it’s people from countries throughout Latin America and first- and second-generation Americans. At this event, there are people from Mexico, Cuba, Peru, Argentina, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, and more. If you understand Spanish, and you’re at this event, you’ll hear a bunch of different dialects.”
“This is a unique event in that it’s not only a homogenous Latino group, but it’s people from countries throughout Latin America and first- and second-generation Americans.”
Omaha Gives has become a vibrant celebration for the organization—one that the organization wouldn’t have done on its own if the giving day platform didn’t exist. “Because Omaha Community Foundation provides the platform, it is less of a risk for us,” Albert says.
This year, given the COVID-19 crisis, there will be no in-person events during Omaha Gives. Instead, we are encouraging nonprofits to host virtual events. So the Latino Center will be doing things a little differently in May. We think they are up for the challenge. “If not us, then who. If not now, then when,” Albert says. Let’s all watch to see what they come up with this year!