Times of prolonged crisis bring much pain and suffering to many. They also showcase heroic acts of resiliency, empathy, and caring. Without a doubt, we’re experiencing, as Charles Dickens so aptly described in his novel “A Tale of Two Cities,” both the Best of Times and Worst of Times.
Over the past months of this pandemic, I’ve witnessed and participated in emerging collaborations between funders – both institutions and local families with significant means – to tackle issues such as mental health, equity, and homelessness (more on that moving forward). Sustained collaborations between organizations remain challenging, but a willingness to minimize bureaucracy and ego has led to new relationships between LACF and entities such as LifeMoves, El Camino Hospital, Magnify Community, the City of Mountain View, and others. Recent efforts to ease the grantmaking process, lower the barriers for community members to participate in philanthropy, increase giving from donor-advised funds, and fund more Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC)-led organizations should all continue beyond the pandemic.
Why Local Giving Matters
Since the early days of the pandemic, we have witnessed and continue to observe a tremendous re-emphasis on giving locally; I truly hope that this re-emergence of this donor priority continues after the pandemic. We see evidence of local giving in many ways, including the enthusiastic response to the pandemic-related funds the Foundation helped launch and the tremendous growth in Giving Tuesday support. I also hope to see a robust local giving response in the current year-end appeals by the Los Altos Town Crier for its annual Holiday Fund and LACF for its Community Impact fund campaign.
I should draw one distinction: giving locally does not merely mean giving within a specific ZIP code area. For many donors, giving locally means providing assistance both in the community they currently live in and the places they called home beforehand or to which they have significant attachments. Younger (Millennial and Generation Z) donors also develop multiple ‘local’ priorities based on their life experiences and social connections. Helping maintain local giving underscores the need to understand how our donors view and prioritize their local giving opportunities.
Charting Your Philanthropic Journey
Working with current and prospective donors, local funders, such as LACF, help align financial resources – philanthropic dollars – with those in need and the organizations that support them. Understanding how our donors engage locally, here or elsewhere, remains critical as we support a donor’s current and future funding priorities. That work may involve identifying worthwhile organizations to fund, collaborating on investment opportunities related to local initiatives, or understanding emerging issues that impact our community. At its core, our role will continue to focus on providing support and guidance to those with the inclination to give as they embark on their philanthropic journeys. That’s the beautiful reflection of how – and where – our community can come together through LACF.