For the past year, area nonprofits have stepped up to serve, with support from generous neighbors
As pandemic-related needs grew and evolved in 2020, people throughout the capital area responded in significant ways. That generosity is clear in the $19.2 million the Foundation awarded with its fundholders in 2020, a record and a testament to the power of engaged, active philanthropy. In a year marked by economic hardship for so many, grants to human services and shelter-related nonprofits more than doubled; in a year marked by renewed momentum for racial justice, grants to civil rights and social advocacy organizations more than quadrupled.
“People who give through the Foundation care deeply about our community. They’re prepared to give in good times and in challenging ones, to causes they’ve supported for years and to others new to them that are meeting community needs,” said Kerry Wood, the Foundation’s chief officer of donor engagement. She noted that half of the grants disbursed last year were directed by donors with Donor Advised Funds, who increased their giving by recommending 22% more grants in 2020.
Fundholders were not alone in growing their giving: In a recent survey of 150 nonprofit leaders conducted by the Foundation, most said philanthropic gifts to their organizations remained steady or increased last year—a heartening response during a period of economic volatility, said Wood. Still, in the same survey, 60% of respondents reported their organizations continue to experience significant disruptions from the pandemic and many are eying the long-term challenges their clients face after a year of persistent crisis.
According to Wood, just as local philanthropy has played a critical role in supporting community-driven responses over the past year, it must continue to help meet evolving needs. “Ensuring the capital area emerges from the crises of the past year a more vibrant, more vital region will require community-centered philanthropy that emphasizes local resources, that advances equity and justice for all who live here,” she said.
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