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The Nexus of Community Philanthropy

The Community Foundation of Western Nevada began in 1998 as a small collection of Donor Advised Funds (DAFs). Our founders followed the business model successful for fast-growing community foundations in the Bay Area. Virtually 100% of the assets we stewarded 20 years ago were in DAFs, and we began our learning process. Today there are alternatives to establishing a DAF at the Community Foundation, including donor advised charitable funds at commercial financial institutions. We have worked with people who set up a donor advised fund at a commercial institution, then for grant advice they worked with a trust department at a bank, or a trust company, or their CPA, attorney, or investment advisor, or perhaps they hired a private consultant to help.  We simplify giving through a DAF because, at the Community Foundation of Western Nevada, we provide high-level concierge-type service included in the one low-fee. The experience of handling more than 9,000 grants and scholarship awards has taught us a great deal about our community.  This expertise and the relationships built with nonprofits over the years, support an intensive level of personal service not found anywhere else. As the Community Foundation matured we discovered new opportunities to combine giving through DAFs with Community Foundation unrestricted grantmaking. Pooling donors’ resources with Community Foundation initiatives and collaborations generates more significant impact.  A dollar granted through this process has the effect of three, or even five dollars granted as an individual DAF grant. This level of impact simply cannot be achieved by making grants through commercial DAFs. This phenomenon is described in a research paper recently published by CFRTI (the Community Foundation Research and Training Institute).  The paper focuses on how local community foundations have become experts at local community needs and by working with and through local organizations, experts in determining actions that can be taken to address those needs. The research makes it clear that DAFs are a critical resource to combine with opportunities and strategies developed through community foundations to tackle our most serious community issues.  Here is a link to the research. The Community Foundation of Western Nevada has not moved as intentionally as the article suggested to engage DAFs collaboratively, but we do have many fundholders who are partnering in our recent and most impactful work. We will, together, make real progress in addressing community needs. The Community Foundation is intensely focused on our donors and fundholders’ charitable goals to bring about transformative philanthropy. Our personal philanthropic services make granting through a DAF more satisfying. In addition, the leverage, involvement, collaboration, advocacy, leadership, strategic granting and impact is the value added when you establish a donor advised fund with the Community Foundation. Chris Askin, President, and CEO Connecting people who care with causes that matter.