Meet Jeremy Kraut-Ordover of Habitat for Humanity International

The following interview is part of the Philanthropy Roundtable’s “Free to Give” series highlighting the impact that philanthropy can have when Americans have the right to give freely to the causes and communities they care about most. Learn more here.

“Habitat for Humanity began as a grassroots effort on a community farm in southern Georgia in 1976. Today, we’re a global housing nonprofit serving communities across all 50 states in the United States and in 70 countries around the world.”

“Habitat partners with families to build, repair or improve a safe place to call home. To date, Habitat has helped more than 35 million people obtain decent and affordable shelter, along with the strength, stability and independence to build a better future for themselves and their families.”

“A healthy home is like a vaccine that provides resiliency, immunity and strength for children and their families – it can prevent disease, unnecessary hospitalizations, as well as improve physical, emotional and mental health.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for affordable housing, both in the United States and globally. The shortage of safe, decent and affordable housing was already at a crisis level. In the United States, more than 17 million families were already spending half or more of their income on housing before the pandemic. Now, with tens of millions of people filing for unemployment, the situation is immeasurably worse.”

“The need is more urgent than ever. In some ways, with stay-at-home orders, COVID-19 has made our case even more relevant by highlighting the importance of a safe and decent home. Thankfully, the generosity of our donors has been tremendous.”

“We can’t do our work without donor-advised funds. They’re one of our most important partners – they carry our message. They do due diligence in the industry to help make investments go to organizations that make a difference.”

“I view them as the gatekeeper and a partner to transformative philanthropy. Donor-advised funds help donors by first vetting organizations and then providing donors with information about the types of crisis or need these organizations are responding to. They make it easier for a donor to make an informed decision on where to give.”

“Donor-advised funds have made the private foundation, and the idea of multigenerational giving more accessible to a lot of donors. Many of the donors I work with end up with life-changing financial events, and they’re not quite ready to make a decision on what to do philanthropically. The donor-advised fund gives them a safe harbor to put those funds, and a place from which they can make strategic philanthropic investments.”

“Another thing about donor-advised funds is that they allow donors to make their gift at a time that makes the most financial sense to them, then see the impact at a time that makes most sense to the organization.”

“There is immeasurable value in the donor-advised fund world. Donor-advised funds serve as great educators to their donors and help them see where their passions are best served – often through organizations that the donor may not have been exposed to otherwise.”

“I think the giving environment will likely meet the urgent need as long as we’re able to communicate, through donor-advised funds and directly to donors, how they help us meet our needs and have an immediate impact.”

“Donor-advised funds will continue to grow and they should: they serve an important purpose in creating the opportunity for longevity in philanthropic relationships.”

– Jeremy Kraut-Ordover, vice president of Habitat for Humanity International in Atlanta, Georgia

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