Born and raised in Richmond, Elizabeth Dolan Wright first learned about the importance of generosity by observing her mom and dad as they made charitable giving a household priority.
“My parents have been so thoughtful in supporting the causes they care about, whether financially or through serving in leadership roles on boards and committees,” Elizabeth said. “Seeing them give so much of their time and resources over the years has been inspiring, and I’ve always wanted to follow in their footsteps.”
As Elizabeth pursued higher education and career goals outside of Richmond, she still carried with her a love for the River City and a passion for giving back. This passion guided her throughout her professional journey as a nonprofit consultant in Washington, D.C. and a fundraising and development professional in Chicago – and in time, right back to Richmond.
“My husband J.D. and I have been seeing how many exciting changes are catalyzing in the city now, whether that’s new restaurants, revitalized cultural institutions, or more perspectives included in the larger conversations about what Richmond can be,” Elizabeth shared. “We wanted to see how we could be part of this.”
After getting settled from the move, Elizabeth reached out to the Community Foundation to learn about current opportunities to make a meaningful impact in her hometown. She quickly joined Impact 100 Richmond, which allowed her to connect with other women interested in collective giving and making transformational grants to local organizations.
Impact 100 Richmond's mission is to advance transformative giving in the Richmond region by uniting women's ideas and actions through philanthropy.
“I was able to serve on one of the committees and review grant proposals,” she said, “which was a really cool way to get to know nonprofits doing so much good in our community.”
Additionally, she and J.D. started a donor advised fund at the Community Foundation, and they’re excited to work with the Philanthropic Services team to build a strategic giving plan. Elizabeth found valuable insights in learning opportunities such as the Arts & Culture Exchange, where donors receive a behind-the-scenes look at the Foundation’s Community Impact Grants process for Cultural Vibrancy.
The Community Foundation’s Community Vibrancy grantmaking strives to ensure that community members enjoy good quality of life, with inclusive access to and an appreciation for the arts, cultural opportunities and natural assets.
“I was eager to get a sense of the current needs in Richmond’s arts and culture scene, and this was such a unique chance to see what organizations are working on right now and get an understanding of how the Community Foundation allocates support for the most impact,” she said. The experience led her to make a gift to the Fund for Community Vibrancy, supporting the Foundation’s yearly grantmaking towards a vibrant spectrum of arts and cultural activities in schools and throughout the community.
Elizabeth has also found a special way to introduce her own kids to the power of philanthropy through the Foundation’s DIY Volunteer Opportunities, where individuals assemble supply kits on their own schedules and drop off completed kits that meet a nonprofit’s identified needs.
Elizabeth's children have been participating in every step of the DIY Volunteer Opportunities, from the purchasing of supplies to dropping off assembled supply kits.
“We have a five-year-old and a seven-year-old, and these kit projects are the perfect way to make volunteering approachable for them,” she said. “Each project even comes with a guide that includes age-appropriate discussion questions that help them connect with what they’re doing. It’s been so fun for us, and a great way to pass on the lessons that my parents instilled in me.”
If you are interested in developing your giving strategy with the Community Foundation, please contact Molly Dean Bittner, Chief Philanthropy Officer, at (804) 409-5605 or firstname.lastname@example.org.