“It is up to all of us to join together to support our neighbors in need. We have been encouraged and thankful to see our long-standing community of donors step forward to generously help our region, and our nation, heal.”Lorie Slutsky, president of The New York Community Trust
WASHINGTON (PRWEB) May 14, 2020
Donor-advised fund account holders at community foundations have been rallying to help those in need in the face of the Covid-19 crisis, granting hundreds of millions to support their neighbors in communities large and small across the U.S.
According to a new survey by the Community Foundation Public Awareness Initiative, donor-advised funds at 64 U.S. community foundations granted $821.9 million to nonprofits in March and April. That figure represents an increase of $302.5 million, or 58.2 percent, compared with the same period one year ago.
In many communities, donors have granted two or three times more than they have in previous years – and are pledging to make additional contributions to nonprofits as the crisis continues to unfold. Donor-advised fund grants at The Boston Foundation, for instance, totaled nearly $43.8 million in March and April – up 246 percent over the same period a year ago.
“I am inspired by the generosity of our donors in this time of need, but far from surprised. Our donor advised fundholders are ramping up their giving and are our willing partners in efforts to address the deep equity and opportunity divides that have made COVID-19 so devastating in low-income communities and communities of color,” said Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of The Boston Foundation. “Donor advised funds are proving to be a ready source of philanthropic capital to address critical needs during this pandemic."
About the Survey
Community foundations are grantmaking public charities that mobilize the assets of past and current donors to improve the lives of people in a defined geographic area. They use the resources of individuals, families, and businesses to support effective nonprofits in their communities.
The Community Foundation Public Awareness Initiative survey includes results from community foundations in every region of the country, covering 25 states, plus the District of Columbia. The U.S. is home to nearly 800 community foundations – meaning the total granted through donor-advised funds at all community foundations during this period far exceeds the $821.9 million granted by those who responded to the survey.
Historically, donor-advised fund holders have stepped up to support their communities during difficult economic times.
A 2019 study by Dan Heist, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and Danielle Vance-McMullen, an assistant profession at the University of Memphis, found that donors who manage DAFs tend to be more generous with their grantmaking during recessions, especially when compared with other forms of giving.
But the response, to date, of community foundation donors to address Covid-19 is unprecedented in its size and scope.
“When things are at their worst, community foundations and our donors are at our best,” said Lorie Slutsky, president of The New York Community Trust. “Covid-19 is impacting the lives of our nation’s most vulnerable people in countless ways – and it is up to all of us to join together to support our neighbors in need. Here in New York, and around the country, we have been encouraged and thankful to see our long-standing community of donors step forward to generously help our region, and our nation, heal.”
Educating Donors About Covid-19
Many community foundations report that they are taking aggressive steps to connect with their donor-advised fund holders to educate them about the unique needs faced by their neighbors during Covid-19.
Donors at The Chicago Community Trust granted nearly $92.7 million in March and April alone in response to the unprecedented challenges presented by COVID-19, including contributions to the many local response funds established to support the Chicago region’s nonprofit community.
“Our primary goal is to make sure we’re getting resources out to support organizations that are meeting the needs of the most hard-hit communities in our region,” said Helene Gayle, The Chicago Community Trust’s president and CEO. “With the support of our generous donors who continue to be generous and caring, the Trust is prepared to meet the critical needs of our community.”
The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta has created an educational webinar series for donors about Covid-19 issues and has launched an online resource called Vital Match, which aims to connect donors directly with nonprofits that are working on issues that match a donor’s interest.
Its donors have responded generously, granting more than $24.7 million to support nonprofits – more than double the $11.9 million granted the previous year.
Community foundations nationwide are embracing a number of similar tactics to connect with their donors during Covid-19, playing host to informational webinars and conference calls, recording video appeals, and leveraging email and direct mail.
“Whether continuing to give to causes they care about, helping our most vulnerable through our community’s Disaster Recovery Fund or learning about and giving to the timely needs of our local nonprofits through our GIVEdsm website, our donor advised fund holders are leading the way in showing that when we face times of challenge, we are stronger together,” said Kristi Knous, president of the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines.
Resources for Reporters
The Community Foundation Public Awareness Initiative can connect reporters with donors who are giving generously to support those impacted by Covid-19.
Our network of community foundation leaders is also available to discuss community needs, donor behavior, and how their communities are working together to address the most pressing issues related to Covid-19.