In The Community
Congratulations—you have just been named the recipient of some much-needed and well-deserved funding!
The bad news? Well, now you need to be on high alert for cyber scams. That press release listing you as a recipient of a major award may have put a bullseye on your back. Your name and the award have probably landed you on the radar of some hackers.
But before your eyes glaze over and you think this is just another overblown warning: this has already happened to other organizations like yours. Some of them were wiped out within weeks of receiving huge grants that were about to transform their world. In 2016 after raising millions of dollars for the Standing Rock Sioux Native American tribe protests, a quarter million dollars was inadvertently wired by the political non-profit Our Revolution to scammers who posed as trusted business vendors. In 2017, Save the Children was phished into sending $997,400 to a scammer. The most recent victims are keeping the incidents confidential, as you can imagine.
Even if you haven’t (yet) received that kind of windfall, it’s important to know these various types of scams continue to make their way through the nonprofit world as well as the for-profit.
There’s good news though: there are three steps you can take to protect yourself, and they don’t require you to find extra money to hire an IT consultant.
Not a Masters in Fine Arts, but the other MFA: Multi-Factor Authentication. This is the security measure used by financial and other websites to send you a code on your cell phone before you can log in. Does this kind of security seem like a pain? Maybe, and sometimes it actually is, but think of the pain of having your accounts wiped out or getting locked out of your essential business operations. Also, where possible or when given a choice, go with the Google Authenticator or similar app-based authentication codes as opposed to text or email message-based codes.
Don’t stop protecting your own accounts though. Ask your partners, vendors, advisors, and even donors to do the same as soon as possible. It’s an interconnected world, and the account that you are linked to for an automatic payment could be the one that leaves an open door for hackers. Any communications system such as email, Slack, or chat could be a risk, in addition to your financial and accounting systems, and your banks.
Contact Info and Security Word
Collect contact info for the authorized contacts of your vendors, your advisors, and your partners, ideally during a call or video meeting—not in an email. Get a cell phone, work phone, WhatsApp, or Signal contact info—and don't allow it to be changed without verbal confirmation. Especially for donors and significant financial partners, create a code word you share and agree to include in any information update requests.
There’s a reason that websites ask you for those annoying and obscure details like the name of your 7th-grade science teacher (no offense, Mrs. Martinez). Hackers can find a lot of personal information online (um, yes Facebook, thanks for telling the whole world the name of your cat), so look for something that would never be online and that you don’t plan on announcing online, ever.
Even with social media accounts that are set to “private,” most people are overconfident in the privacy that exists online. Move around in the digital world as if you have no privacy at all (because in many cases you don’t) and treat your personal information accordingly.
Outbound Calls Only
Here is a really big tip: don’t change anything or say yes to anything on an inbound call or through text. Don’t give any information in response to an email query (phishing scams are a lot more sophisticated these days than the old “wire me some money” spam). Confirm all wire/ACH transactions via an outbound phone call to one of those pre-collected contact numbers above. Do not accept an inbound call for verification, and never click on links sent via text even if they look legitimate. If your bank ever does need to verify any account activity, that message will be waiting for you when you log into your account, or when you call their customer service line.
In short, just make it a habit to never click any links or give any personal information from an inbound call, email, or even a mailed letter (scammers are going old-school these days).
All this work may seem like a lot to deal with, but it’s nothing compared to dealing with what security professionals call the “attack pattern.”
a. Your organization receives funding
b. Your organization is infiltrated
c. Your organization is scammed through payment fraud
You know how much work went into getting those funds in the first place, so consider the advice of security folks. They have a saying: there are two kinds of people. People who have secure processes in place, and people who are going to wish they did.
At the same time financial stability became an even large concern than usual. Many planned on buckling down should a recession hit, while others became more focused on retirement and investments. So when you’re trying to be woke but also make some decent financial decisions, what’re you to do? That’s where social impact investing (also known as social justice investing) comes in.
What is social impact investing?
It’s aligning your investments with businesses and organizations that also align with your social views, so that way your hard-earned money is making its way to groups that stand up for what you believe in - and giving you some of that coin right back. More and more people are now becoming much more savvy about how to ethically invest.
Think about what kind of investor you’d like to be.
Are you looking to invest for the sake of the planet? Looking at labor practices like how companies treat their employees? Corporate governance (i.e. the board of directors of a company, how they run that company)? Determining what kind of places you’d like to invest in is half the battle, but so is doing some internal self-reflection to figure out what is represented in the places you invest in.
Do your research.
We know, we know - this is probably the internet’s favorite line when it comes to winning an argument, but the same holds true for investing effectively in your social views. Looking into startups, nonprofits, and more organizations working on tackling issues close to your heart is a surefire way to put your money where your mouth is to make some real, lasting change. Our favorite resource? Latinx finance experts dedicated to advancing our community, SUMA.
Participate in impact banking.
Impact banking is just one of the many ways that you can house your money, but with a more just approach: taking your money out of banks that practice predatory lending and putting it into a financial institution with social justice at the forefront of their priorities. This includes B Corporations (banks meeting certain metrics that benefit individuals/the environment and have certain levels of both public transparency and accountability by B Lab, a non-profit), Minority Depository Insitutions (credit unions or banks that are at least 51% owned by certain minority communities, serve mostly minority communities, or have a minority-majority Board of Directors), and Community Development Financial Institutions (banks or credit unions that divert the majority of their financial activities to investing into low-income, underserved areas, with their boards representing those same communities they invest back into). There are also now alternative banks that are 100% focused on community impact. You have lots of options in the impact banking department.
Become familiar ESG ETFs.
We know, lots of acronyms right? It’s not so overwhelming once you consider investing in exchange-traded funds focused on environmental, social, and governance, though! There’s many ESG ETFs you can put your money in, but this list from Bankrate outlines some of the best of the best - and even go through reputable investing firms like Fidelity and Ally too.
SRI funds can help you achieve your goals.
Socially responsible investing is a part of the ESG investment strategy, but focuses more on how businesses run and impact their communities. When you approach your investing with an SRI strategy, you’re investing more into corporate social responsibility or how much a business looks to behave ethically to all of its key stakeholders, the environment, and the market itself. By investing this way, you’re looking to put your dinero to the challenge of making the world a better place - one dollar at a time.
Like this article? Be sure to join the Luz Membership Community, where we host online events, workshops, and more on everything covering finances to building your own space online.
By now you've probably heard more than one story about someone becoming a millionaire by selling NFTs but for probably most people, this emerging technology and economic system is still very confusing. What are NFTs, exactly? Art? Currency? And how are people making millions of dollars from them? While the obvious question for most people, "why can't I just screenshot the graphic and use it?” seems legitimately valid, the system doesn't work that way (that's what the experts say, at least).
But don't worry, being confused makes you part of the majority, not the minority. So let's break it down, shall we?
NFT stands for non-fungible token, and non-fungible means it's unique and can't be replaced, so for example, a bitcoin is fungible; you can exchange one for another. Think of NFTs as your favorite collectible item; you couldn't change that exact same item for another one that's the same; you could change it for a different one, but not the same one. Like this article from The Verge says, "...to put it in terms of physical art collecting: anyone can buy a Monet print. But only one person can own the original.”
Hope that didn't make it more confusing, moving on. NFTs are part of the Ethereum blockchain, which is a cryptocurrency. Again NFTs can be anything digital, but the hype right now is around digital art.
I am an ape! #community #art #BoredApeYCpic.twitter.com/iOe3E0H2t6— Neymar Jr (@Neymar Jr) 1642703045
Some say it's ruining fine art, some say it's revolutionizing it, but regardless of what camp you land in, many are making money from them. There's a lot more to NFTs but now that the basics are out of the way, the next important topic is who are the Latinx artists making an impact in the NFT community?
We’re here to learn, build wealth, and to support.
Day of the Dead Project
The Lucky Lady is still out there!! Who will mint her and win the $7,777? #NFTGiveaways #nftcollectors 1 in 374 chance to win $7,777 LFG Only 374 NFTs left, #erc20 tokens and free Solana #nfts coming soon!!pic.twitter.com/KsZADnKz3v— Day of the Dead NFT / MINT LIVE + SOLANA LIVE (@Day of the Dead NFT / MINT LIVE + SOLANA LIVE) 1636739271
David Galan, an avid Crypto investor, saw the opportunity to fill in a gap in the NFT community with art that came from his culture. He partnered with Armando Parilla, a graphic designer, to create The Day of the Dead project whch allowed them to share his Mexican Heritage through La Catrina, the skull image typical of this celebration. Galan said, "We really wanted to do something that was different, The reason we choose the Day of the Dead is that it means something to all of us." Their art has gathered a strong following and includes 7,777 NFTs. According to Galan, this is only the beginning of a huge digital project.
making artwork since pre-kinder pic.twitter.com/f57DXeSFYy— Jesus Martinez (@Jesus Martinez) 1644190729
Jesus Martinez has become one of the most popular Latino artists in the community. Martinez, who has been taking art classes since high school, started selling his art as NFTs in 2021. For him, the artwork is all about storytelling, and so his artwork includes landscapes, animations, and abstract art, all of which have a story to tell. His rapid success has become an inspiring story to many, and Martinez hopes to inspire other people of color to give this digital world a try. His most famous artwork, named Genesis, sold for $80,000. He also seeks to help those who need it with his earnings giving him the purpose of becoming a great altruist.
NFTs are a way to express art and a way to generate wealth. Learning about them can help Latinx artists overcome the financial challenges that come with trying to make it in the art world. USA Today reported "that minority investors are more likely to outpace white investors in owning digital currency." So amigas, what are your thoughts on NFTs? It’s time Latinas took their place in the NFT world too.