“One silver lining from the pandemic has been witnessing our community helping one another,” shared Amy Singleton, Vice President of Philanthropic Services at the Community Foundation. This past year, Community Foundation donors increased their giving frequency, grant amounts and more donors than ever sought advice from Foundation staff about how to make their giving more impactful. “Donors and professional advisors often work closely with our team on the administrative aspects of giving – tax strategies, setting up funds and managing them – but many of our fund holders are partnering with us to figure out how to be more strategic by tapping into the Foundation’s deep knowledge and community insight, and often aligning their grantmaking with ours.”
John and Susan Smith (whose names have been changed for anonymity) regularly partner with the Community Foundation to direct their giving where it is needed most. Each year, the Smiths give a portion of their grantmaking to the Foundation’s unrestricted grantmaking, now named the Community Impact Fund that augments the Foundation’s ability to support more of the needs submitted by nonprofits throughout the year. The Smiths were also among the first donors to give to the Central Virginia COVID-19 Response Fund, which made grants in a similar way. “We can’t begin to have the knowledge of who has real needs out there in our community,” said John, “but we know the Foundation does and will guide us on where we can really make a difference.”
John and Susan have frequent conversations with both Amy Singleton and Annette Cousins, Vice President of Community Engagement at the Foundation, to learn about the issues facing our region. “We like to partner on projects or initiatives, particularly ones that inspire people to move forward on a positive path, like with job training or with housing,” John said. In 2019, these conversations led the Smiths to make grants to the New Lease on Life Fund at Homeward and the Community College Workforce Alliance program that prepares individuals for skilled trades in the region.
“This past year we were really concerned about the emergencies that would happen because of needs left unmet, particularly relating to food and shelter,” shared John. “You can put off a lot of things, but you can’t put off eating and having a roof over your head.” This motivated the couple to use their donor advised fund to invest in the Regional Emergency Rental Assistance Fund to help prevent evictions. In addition to grants made from their DAF, the Smiths took advantage of their ability to maximize the amount of charitable gift deductions in 2020 due to the CARES Act and made sizeable direct contribution to several smaller organizations. “We wanted to support food pantries and organizations aiding the undocumented community because we knew Federal assistance wouldn’t be enough to meet the needs. Amy and Annette helped us find nonprofits providing these critical services across the region. We are grateful the Community Foundation could play such a substantial role in helping us distribute these gifts where they were needed most.”