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Denise Kirwan

Principal/Founder, TracksGlobal Business Consulting & Executive Coaching

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Philanthropy Can Help Busy Latinas Advance Their Careers While Giving Back to the Community

09/23/2015 06:00AM | 21975 views

Do you have time to do one more thing? It seems like we – women, Latinas – are often asked to do more, even when we are already busy juggling full time jobs, raising children, and maintaining our homes. 

Women seem to be doing it all, often as single parents. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 30% of U.S. households are led by single parents, and 85% of those are led by women¹ – one fourth of which are Latina-led households.

Even with all of these pressures and demands, women are often asked to do ‘one more thing’ – volunteer to do even more.  Can women who are already so overtasked really afford to volunteer their time and energy?

The answer may be related to the many rewards that come when we are involved in philanthropic endeavors. Historically, women have known this, joining philanthropies as a means of being with other women who share a common passion to serve and contribute to their communities.

A convergence of factors has increased women’s visibility and involvement in philanthropy in recent years.  According to the Center for Philanthropy at Indiana University², women’s socio-economic status in the U.S. has changed significantly over the past two generations. Women have been a growing component of the U.S. labor force, increasing from 40% in the 1970s to about 60% today (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2011).  

According to the study, women’s major motivation for charitable giving and volunteering is giving back to their own communities, choosing organizations that are well-managed and where their contributions will make a real difference.

Beyond the rewards of giving back to the community and making a difference in people’s lives, philanthropic involvement can be beneficial to women from a career-health standpoint too. Often when people get involved with philanthropy, they have the opportunity to work on projects, expand their knowledge and learn how to do something they have not done in the past. This is normally done in a very safe environment surrounded by people who are willing to teach and share what they know – creating the perfect opportunity to develop new skills and learn new ideas. You can say that being immersed in philanthropic activities can be like earning a mini-MBA!

Individuals may even have the opportunity to sharpen their entrepreneurial skills and learn how to run a small business, with all of the organizational challenges and complexities that come with it. Volunteer opportunities like these are everywhere: professional organizations, schools, religious institutions, community, non-profit and healthcare related organizations, just to list a few. It does not matter what the philanthropy is, resources are always in demand and anyone willing to step up and help will be happily welcomed.

If you are looking to give back while expanding your knowledge and getting to know quality people with similar values – consider complementing your career with philanthropy work. Yes, it is one more thing to do, but the enrichment will be worth it.

When evaluating where to spend your time and money:  

  • Choose an organization that aligns with your values and passion.
  • Do your homework, visit the organization and meet the people who are involved in the philanthropy. Remember, it’s easier to give your time away for free when you enjoy what you are doing.
  • Once you have decided who you want to affiliate yourself with, take a look at what you want to do with them. Volunteer for the tasks you enjoy or where you can learn new skills. For example, if you want to learn more about fundraising, volunteer to be part of a fundraising committee; if you want to learn more about accounting, help with the treasury.
  • If you want to learn about how a non-profit is run or learn how to run a business – definitely join a Board.

Be forewarned that once you become involved in philanthropy work, it may be hard to stop! Women often find the work rewarding and complementary to their careers, social lives and family.

If you are ready to take on bigger challenges beyond “one more thing,” consider a more holistic, expansive approach to career development by actively engaging with multiple philanthropies. It’s a win-win strategy with win-win benefits – developing relationships, advancing your career, expanding your knowledge-base and giving back to community.

Silvia Van Dusen was a contributing writer on this article



  ¹ Lean In- Sheryl Sandberg – Citation (below) from book pg. 122 and reference pages 207-208:

U.S. Census Bureau, “Table FG10 Family Groups,” America’s Families and Living Arrangements, Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement (2011),

Calculation derived by focusing on all family groups with children under 18.

  ²The 2011 Study of Net Worth Women’s Philanthropies and the Impact of Women’s Giving Networks (Indiana University),

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