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Guest opinion: Foundation for community — giving doesn't have to be difficult

I realize that being able to donate anything this year is a privilege.  For those of us that want to do more and have both limited capacity and means to contribute, your local community foundation can be a great ally in supporting your community.
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Photo by Oscar Schnell on Unsplash

As 2020 draws to a close, I find myself searching for the positives from this year. In my case, one of the best experiences was getting involved with my local community foundation. Community foundations occupy a special niche. They are not issue-driven. Their cause is making giving easier. Typically, they can facilitate contributions to any 501(c)(3) IRS-qualified public charity so churches, local or national nonprofits, or universities are all possible recipients. The community foundation I worked with (the Longmont Community Foundation) made everything extremely easy.

Here were the steps: 

  1. Create a donor-advised fund, or DAF
  2. Transfer funds into the DAF account
  3. Set up an automatic payment 
  4. Pick organizations to support
  5. Make donations
    a. For local landmarks (e.g. the friends of the local library) everything was already entered and I could select them from a menu and simply chose the amount to give.
    b. For other groups (e.g. national or less well-known local nonprofits) I simply provide the amount, an email address for the organization, and a phone number for the organization. 

I recognize and respect that for many of us donating money is not something to consider this year. I know I’ve certainly had periods this year when my only goal was getting through the day. At best this was a year for discrete tasks. A time for efforts that could be done in a brief moment of capacity. I never had the ability to sit down and make multiple decisions. 

I did discover I had the bandwidth to decide I could set up a donor-advised fund. Then another month, I found the time to set up a small monthly contribution. Part of Thanksgiving was deciding what organizations to support and making a first donation from the fund. I could have never done all of these things at one time. The community foundation made doing this possible. It also proved to be a valuable and welcoming resource.  

In my experience this year, I discovered my understanding of the word “community” was more accurate than the word “foundation.” I believe in communities. We are capable of more together.  However, prior to this year when I thought of foundations, I pictured those giving millions of dollars a year and not someone donating a few hundred dollars a year. I’ve learned I was wrong. Community foundations are designed and set up to make contributing easy for those with both limited funds and time.  

I realize that being able to donate anything this year is a privilege.  For those of us that want to do more and have both limited capacity and means to contribute, your local community foundation can be a great ally in supporting your community.