During this season of giving, Philanthropy Roundtable is highlighting stories of charitable organizations and everyday Americans who are working to help those in need. While the causes and donors featured in the “Free to Give” campaign vary widely, all of the individuals involved are dedicated to improving lives. Each of the organizations profiled also benefits from donor-advised funds (DAFs), a type of charitable spending account that enable more donors, especially those who may not have the resources to create foundations, to give easily, effectively and privately.
“Free to Give,” a Roundtable series unveiled earlier this year, emphasizes the importance of DAFs to both charitable organizations and to donors themselves at a time when misguided efforts are afoot in Washington to stifle charitable giving through proposed regulations.
In the coming weeks, the Roundtable will release new stories that spotlight extraordinary individuals and organizations and underscore the importance and positive impact of DAFs. Here’s a sneak peek at the stories we’ll be sharing:
- The Jessica June Children’s Cancer Foundation in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, provides emergency financial assistance and supportive care services to the families of children diagnosed with cancer, helping them access basic needs such as housing, electricity and food. “Donor-advised funds have really come through for these families who need emergency financial assistance,” said Sandra Mudvi, founder and president of the foundation.
- The Care Center in Holyoke, Massachusetts, offers a wide range of programs for pregnant teens and low-income women in the city, where almost half the households are woman-led. Services include GED assistance, an in-house college daycare center, door-to-door transportation, a nurse practitioner, housing and a college prep program. “The mindset of The Care Center, as an organization, is to identify challenges and address them, with the goal of moving women out of poverty. We want them to be economically self-sufficient. That is what we’re about,” said Executive Director Anne Teschner. “Donor-advised funds have been central to the Center’s growth and development.”
- Key City Public Theatre, a community theater in Port Townsend, Washington, has experienced exponential growth over the last 15 years under the leadership of Executive Artistic Director Denise Winter, who says DAFs have played a key role in the organization’s development. “DAFs helped me create structure around development and individual giving,” she explained. “People who have gone to the trouble to create a donor-advised fund are all about the personal connection to the things they value and want to see sustained and blossom.”
- Camp Rainbow Gold in Twin Falls, Idaho, was inspired by a young cancer patient 38 years ago who was denied access to summer camp because of his illness. The nonprofit organization runs camps for cancer patients and their siblings, as well as a scholarship program and teen support group. As the organization’s CEO and Executive Director Elizabeth Lizberg says, DAFs were instrumental in helping Camp Rainbow Gold survive during COVID-19. “We had a fire going and it got dimmed by COVID. Donor-advised funds really fueled our fire again and especially allowed us to host our in-person camps this summer, and we’re forever grateful. It’s magical.”
- Donor Jennifer Stefano and her husband have used DAFs to increase their giving impact: “Through DAFs we can give when there is a crisis, without taking money away from the nonprofits we support month to month. We can also make a larger gift to address a need that may not be happening right now. We feel better poised to make an impact and a difference in people’s lives when it matters.”
- Donor Mark Lawrence says DAFs have made his giving more efficient and enjoyable. “The knowledge that we can help organizations focus on what they’re doing has shown us a lot of joy in giving. The only way we think about giving now is through our DAF. It’s just so simple, and it makes things so, so much more efficient,” he said.
Soon the numbers from Giving Tuesday will come rolling in, once again demonstrating the extraordinary generosity of the American people, who continue to donate their time and treasure to charitable causes. However, with or without those numbers, this much we already know: when Americans are free to give, we give freely and generously.
Read Philanthropy Roundtable’s “Free to Give” stories here.