We plan by nature—we make plans for our families, work, vacations and even downtime, imagining different scenarios and planning for various outcomes. When we create any amount of savings for unexpected occurrences, we may say that we are “putting money aside for a rainy day.” Endowed philanthropy works in much the same way. Donors balance giving to support the needs of today with building a fund that will be able to support the needs of tomorrow, whatever those needs may be. That’s the thing about endowed philanthropy – you give knowing there will always be needs to meet. You don’t know what they may be, but you care enough about your community to make sure the resources are there when they are needed most. We have certainly experienced our “rainy day” as a community, a state, a nation and a world recently. No one could have ever imagined that it would be less of a “rainy day” and would be more like an unrelenting downpour in the form of a global pandemic, which has affected all facets of life over the last year. But because of the foresight and generosity of our community and our donors, endowed philanthropic funds were available to respond swiftly to the emerging and urgent needs.

More than fifty donors gave nearly $2 million to the Central Georgia COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, which made it possible to support needs due to the pandemic. A $25,000 grant from the Central Georgia COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund jumpstarted the Brookdale Warming Center, a program which created a safe haven for individuals and families who are homeless or lack adequate heating in their homes. The Warming Center, set up in Brookdale Elementary School, not only serves as a safe, warm shelter but also provides three meals a day and eventually plans to expand to other support services. Without the additional funding from our donors and other generous community members, this project and many others funded by the Central Georgia COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund would not be possible.

In addition to donors who gave to the Central Georgia COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, CFCG donors gave more from their own charitable funds during this time of great need. In fact, many of our donors continued to support the same causes they supported before COVID-19 and gave above and beyond to support the deepening needs across the community. Unlike private foundations which require a 5% payout, Donor Advised Funds do not have an annual payout requirement. However, as a result of the pandemic, CFCG’s annual payout of Donor Advised Funds for FY20 was 12.2%, which was an increase of almost 4% over FY19. The increase in giving represents grants that our donors are making to essential nonprofits doing important work to meet the needs of the most vulnerable among us.

Donor Advised Funds give individuals, families and businesses the flexibility to support charitable organizations or projects of interest to them on their own time. It works much like a charitable savings account, giving donors the freedom to make an impact on the community today while saving some to impact tomorrow, because if there is one thing we have learned – no one knows what tomorrow may bring.

Chris Fellows, whose grandfather established a Donor Advised Fund decades ago, knew that his grandfather appreciated this forward-thinking mentality. “Grandpa cared deeply about central Georgia, and I’m certain that had he been here during COVID, he would have wanted to help,” shares Fellows, who acts as the advisor to a Donor Advised Fund established by his grandfather, who passed away in 2019.  Funds like the one established by Chris’s grandfather many years ago are what set a community up for future success. They lay a foundation of charitable dollars that can be available for grants when it is needed most.

While we may not be able to solve all the problems caused by COVID-19, because of the increase in giving from our Donor Advised Funds, we at least are able to provide support during a time of great need. If you are interested in setting up a Donor Advised Fund at CFCG or are curious about how you can make a difference in the local community, please visit https://cfcga.org/for-donors/donor-advised or call 478-750-9338.

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