With the attention given to this year's presidential election, it is evident the importance of Hispanic Americans on politics. But this is not the only arena in which people are looking to Hispanics to drive growth over the next 30 years. Corporations, brands and the entertainment industry are making bold moves to win over this audience, from hiring senior executives with a multicultural background to shifting advertising dollars from English to Spanish (or bilingual) and producing culturally relevant content.
As owner of a marketing firm and Hispanic who has been helping shape messages and position products to reach Latinos over the past decade, I understand the unique elements needed to connect with the Hispanic Community. Additionally, as a person of faith, I also recognize churches, ministries, and Christian businesses have yet to seize a clear vision to impact the first, second and third generation of Latinos that now call the United States of America home. As a result, they are missing an opportunity to engage this receptive and responsive audience.
In order to bridge the gap with this critical demographic, faith organizations must reframe their approach considering four important trends:
1. Satisfy their spiritual curiosity.
Hispanics represent a group in spiritual transition. The Pew Center found that almost 25 percent of all US Hispanics have abandoned their Catholic traditions and embraced Protestantism, or in lesser degree no religion at all. The main reason for their departure is the desire for a more personal experience with God. Their religious migration is driving the growth of some mainline denominations, but it is also causing a seismic transformation in those congregation's demographical makeup, worship and theology. The energy invested in exploring a new faith shows how much it matters to Hispanics.
2. Engage the most connected audience.
Compounded with their spiritual readiness is also the fact that Hispanics are easy to reach, especially in the age of digital media. A cluster of reputable research shows that they surpass any other group when it comes to using smartphones, participating in social media, watching video streaming and shopping online. The trend indicates faith organizations must modernize their communication approach to meet this emerging audience.
3. Inspire their generosity.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, a Spanish outreach can be self-sustained. The majority of Hispanic households earn between $40,000 and 100,000 annually and their giving level pars with those of Caucasian ethnicity. But according to the study, Diversity in Giving, Hispanics rarely receive appeals from non-profits. If they did, they indicated they would donate more. The study also cautions that traditional direct response channels won't work and the message must align with heartfelt causes or products that celebrate their heritage. Clearly, the shortage of contributions from Hispanics is not due to lack of funds or interest, but a disconnect in the strategy taken.
4. Impact the next generation.
Hispanics form the largest and youngest demographic group. Over half were actually born in US territory and are getting assimilated to American life. They are the doctors, lawyers, scientist, journalist and even preachers of tomorrow. Any organization that is thinking about propelling its influence unto the next generation will be wise to begin courting them now.
Now, is the time to recognize the culture and contributions of those born in or descendants from Latin American countries. It is a time to look back and a time to look forward — especially for the faith community. Statistics show Hispanics are ready and willing to be engaged, they just need the invitation.