Strength in Numbers: Behind a Fundraising Push for Immigrant Rights

photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/shutterstock

photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/shutterstock

With the White House and government officials taking an increasingly hard line on immigration and border security, eight California charities working on behalf of immigrants have formed a new coalition to raise money.

The California United Fund, as the collective fundraising effort is called, will debut its first campaign on Giving Tuesday, which motivates people to support charities on the fifth day after the Thanksgiving holiday. Donations will be shared equally among the eight organizations.

“Coming together to fight for the cause of protecting immigrants and refugees will allow us to better advocate for more thoughtful laws and policies that empower the most vulnerable among us,” said Cynthia Buiza, executive director of the California Immigrant Policy Center. Headquartered in Los Angeles, it is one of the eight nonprofits participating in the effort.

The seven others are: Asian Americans Advancing Justice (Los Angeles), Council on American-Islamic Relations (Sacramento), Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice (Ontario), Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance (Los Angeles), PICO California (Oakland), Services, Immigrant Rights & Education Network (San Jose and Fresno), and the United Farmworker Foundation (Los Angeles).

The coalition is supported by the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, which has long sought to improve grantees’ fundraising abilities. After noticing a surge in giving and volunteerism to progressive organizations following the 2016 election, the fund launched the M3 Initiative (Message, Mobilize, Money), hiring M+R Consultants to help the eight immigration organizations galvanize supporters to donate and take action.

One inspiration for the new Giving Tuesday fundraising campaign is a joint fundraising effort last summer in which more than a dozen groups banded together to raise money for immigrant children and their families who were separated by officials at the border. That campaign raised $4 million.

The eight organizations in the upcoming Giving Tuesday fundraising drive see it as a natural extension of other partnerships they have formed. “This past year, our organizations have worked side-by-side advocating for immigrants,” says Javier Hernandez, executive director of the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice. “For example, we have a joint monthly Twitter chat about important policy and immigration updates and teamed up to attend Immigrant Day in Sacramento.”   

“These groups are used to working together on policy and programs,” says Rachel Baker, director of field building at the Haas, Jr. Fund. “But like most nonprofits working in the same issue space, they are more accustomed to competing with each other for donors. We are inspired by their united approach to reach brand new supporters and strengthen the whole California immigrant rights movement.”

And the organizations plan to maintain the joint fundraising platform long after Giving Tuesday has passed. “Unfortunately, it’s likely that there will be more crises in our communities,” says Buiza of the California Immigrant Policy Center. “Having this platform in place will enable us and donors to spring into action the next time and be better prepared.”