Five Questions for: Lourdes de la Mata-Little

Goodwill South Florida's vice president, marketing, development & communication talks philanthropy 101.

Lourdes de la Mata-Little, nonprofit advocate & vice president, marketing, development & communication for Goodwill South Florida.

With so much going on in the world, will you share with us the basics of working with a nonprofit?
I’m always happy to talk about nonprofits as they are the bridge between people who want to help to those that need the help. Nonprofits have received tremendous support over the past year. And this year, more than ever people want and sometimes feel the need to get involved with nonprofits. But yet there are many who want to make a difference and don’t know where to start. To help you take the first steps and become an advocate for deserving nonprofits, their great causes and learn to make a true difference in your community today. Let’s cover some basics.

What exactly is philanthropy and how do you get started?
Think of nonprofits as your partner in philanthropy. Through them, you can reach your giving goals. Find a cause that speaks to you. Focus on organizations whose work and mission inspire you. Find one whose mission closely match your interests.

And remember: You don’t have to be a millionaire to be a philanthropist or to make a difference. For nonprofits, especially in a COVID-19 world and the recovery that follows, every dollar counts which means, collectively, you can help in big ways.  The one thing you need to know about nonprofits is that the need is always there and on-going.

So to put your tips to practice, tell us about Goodwill. We all know Goodwill is a nonprofit, but what exactly does Goodwill do?
Goodwill is a nonprofit that helps people and it’s all about jobs. It is the largest employer in Miami-Dade, operating well-known donation centers and stores, as well as less-well-known apparel manufacturing plant, laundry facilities, third-party logistics, e-commerce and janitorial operations. Those enterprises hire people with disabilities and the profits go toward career training and counseling to people with disabilities and other work barriers.

It’s also one of the most cost-effective non-profits in the U.S, with 96 percent of its budget going to programs aimed at people with disabilities, We do what we do, which is our primary mission, to give people hope, opportunities and a real chance of belonging to a larger community.

So what’s the need? What’s happened to Goodwill over the pandemic?
As most nonprofits, we’ve been impacted profoundly by the pandemic. We were forced to temporarily furlough 2,800 out of our 3,100 employees and unfortunately we have not received any government financial assistance due to our large size. Although our chances of receiving federal help in the near future are looking slim, we continue to ask our legislators for help securing funding for larger Goodwill organizations who were excluded. If we fail to receive the funding and support we need to continue working at full capacity, the most significant risk we will face is scaling down and serving fewer people with disabilities, at a time when people need the most help.

Once you have a philanthropic goal, what’s the next step?
Then you make your  gift. In our case, we need a large financial boost from anyone and everyone that can help, whether it be community donations, large scale gifts from seasoned philanthropists (or any amount from rookie philanthropists) and corporations and/or federal funding. By receiving this boost, we will be able to continue to fund and offer the programs that help the more than 7,000 people we serve each year; like recruitment, evaluation, vocational rehabilitation, training, job creation, job preparedness, job placement, family strengthening, wellness, social development, collaborative community partnerships and integration.

Connect with Lourdes de la Mata-Little @lourdesdlmlittle and Goodwill South Florida @GoodwillSFL 


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