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:
- Create a donor-advised fund, or DAF
- Transfer funds into the DAF account
- Set up an automatic payment
- Pick organizations to support
- 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.