The Storm is Here…Get Out There

It’s storming out there. 

I don’t need to recap the health and economic turmoil that COVID thrust upon us. The vulnerable are in our own family and community. They’re our fellow citizens across the U.S. and in developing countries around the globe.

I’m crushed reading emails from non-profits needing to cancel major fundraising events, knowing their critical role in annual donor giving. Suddenly, funding is a major concern. At the same time, non-profits’ already overworked staffs are pivoting their efforts to reach those in increasingly vulnerable communities.

Sheltered in my comfortable home, I want to do something. I don’t have N-95 masks to share. But I do have one weapon to help others weather the storm–a donor-advised fund.

Do you have a donor-advised fund? This is a loud unabashed ask that you get out in the storm and put those funds to work

I write a lot about the benefits of donor-advised funds (DAFs). They remain one of my favorite financial tools. In fact, on Giving Tuesday last year, I recommended that each of us open or contribute to a donor-advised fund as One Simple Thing to harness our generosity and capital.

Opening a donor-advised fund forced me to get serious on what I most care about (girls’ education in developing countries) and prioritize my non-profit partners (like Room to Read).

Having a donor-advised fund allows me to give more; in donating appreciated stock to my DAF these past few years, my capital gain tax savings turn into more generous and frequent grants.

During economically good times, contributions to donor-advised funds swell and assets are buoyed further by investment returns. For example, annual contributions to DAFs grew from just shy of $20 billion in 2014 to over $37 billion in 2018; over the same period, assets in DAFs jumped from $70 billion to over $121 billion (source). 

While granting from donor-advised funds also grew during the period, it grew at a slower pace. It’s provoked a healthy debate if DAFs were instead proving detrimental, withholding funds from the organizations and the beneficiaries who need it most.

But now we’re in a storm. It’s a whole new world, and donor-advised funds can play a critical role. I now view my DAF as a weapon, part of a whole U.S. philanthropic capital arsenal.

This all hit me last week when I was speaking to my relationship manager at Room to Read. She shared updates about their required pivots to global programs. I made sure to assure her of my continued financial commitment. Because I had an established donor-advised fund, I had already given the money away.

She was appreciative in hearing this, and responded with a question.

“Would you consider making your grant earlier this year?”

Of course I would! 

I was happy she asked the question. I wondered why I hadn’t thought of suggesting this myself. All of their spring fundraisers were postponed; their mission of furthering education with schools closed across the world required major pivots. 

I had already given the money away. This is what it was for. They need me now. They need all of their donors now. 

So do all non-profits. 

Non-profits need our support to continue their service to the most vulnerable. But if you have a donor-advised fund, I’ll be more direct.

You’ve already given the money away. This is what it was for. They need you now. They need all of us now.

My Donor-Advised Fund Story: CLICK for VIDEO


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Jodi Morris Written by:

Venture Guide to High-Achieving Seekers. Success Coach. Venture Travel Curator. Impact Investor. Traveler. Writer. Global Connector. When we connect to others' stories it changes our own. Let's Venture!