August 19, 2019

Monday, August 19, 2019

Philanthropy Perspectives is a platform to lift up thought leadership from the field. In select editions of the Weekly Download, guest contributors share their insights on philanthropic issues, innovative ideas and best practices from the sector. 

Helping Donors Achieve Their Charitable Goals

Written by Mike Goorhouse, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Holland/Zeeland Area and the community foundation’s donor services team, Colleen Hill and Jessica Lynch.

Here at the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area (CFHZ) our work can be summed up succinctly in five words—community’s endowment and donor service. We have been entrusted by members of our community to build our community’s endowment to ensure that there will always be philanthropic resources available to respond to future needs and opportunities as they arise; and to use our tools, relationships, and knowledge to help donors best achieve their charitable goals.

We believe that when donors feel their giving is creating a significant, positive impact, they are more likely to give more. Naming this commitment to being donor centric as part of our overarching goal inspired us to get creative with how we use the tools at our disposal to best serve donors. At CFHZ, like all community foundations, we have many tools in our toolbox. We’re highlighting three of our most popular tools: donor advised funds, estate charitable management and philanthropic consulting.

Donor Advised Funds (DAFs) aren’t a new offering at CFHZ, but a few years ago we did take a fresh look at them through the lens of a donor. This new look resulted in the elimination of our minimum balance requirement, an expansion of investment options, allowance of unlimited generations of successor advisors (as long as there is only one main point of contact) and a change in fee structure. We all know why DAFs are the fastest growing giving vehicle in the nation: they are a flexible, low-cost solution to charitable giving that allows donors to enjoy administrative convenience, cost savings and tax advantages. For us at CFHZ, our unique value proposition that sets us apart from other DAF administrators is the combination of highly donor-centric policies and our community knowledge to help guide donors beyond fund management. This combination has helped us experience double-digit year-over-year growth in DAF assets. In 2018 alone we had more than $12 million in new dollars donated to DAFs, which represented 57 percent of our total gifts for the year.

Throughout both sides of our mission, CFHZ prioritizes our relationships with professional advisors (PA). In addition to serving as a great referral source for individuals and businesses who are seeking any number of philanthropic services, our PA partners share insights with us about their work and the trends they are seeing. This is what led us to expand our estate charitable management services beyond our traditional fund options. The ability to customize a plan for the distribution of the charitable portion of one’s estate through CFHZ is attractive for a variety of reasons. Not only does it make it easier on the estate financial representative because they only have to make one charitable distribution, but it also gives the donor options like distributing in lump sums or in annual distributions over a pre-determined period of years—and every option in between. The donor can choose their favorite nonprofits (local or national), how much they want each organization to receive (dollar amounts or percentages) and over what period of time they would like the dollars granted (lump sums, annual distributions or endowment)—CFHZ takes care of distributing the gifts upon receipt of assets. Some of the plans are very creative and specific, allowing the donors to feel confident their resources will be used exactly how they desire, even when they aren’t here to monitor the donations themselves. This service has increased referrals from estate planning professionals and in most cases, has resulted in one or more permanent funds at CFHZ, including many new gifts to our community’s endowment.

Effective giving begins with an understanding of the impact the donor wishes to have on their community and the world. Through philanthropic consulting we work alongside families and corporations as a partner to develop that understanding. We serve in an advisory capacity, providing administrative services and community insight to help equip donors to be more strategic with their giving to achieve greater impact. In addition to donors appreciating this partnership, we have also gained invaluable insight into family and corporate giving and built deeper relationships with key donors.

As we’ve focused on becoming more donor-centric with our donor service work, we have seen first-hand how donors who feel good about the impact their giving is creating are in return increasingly likely to give more. Making the choice to take donor-centric thinking to a new level has of course brought about some questions and concerns—such as the appropriate fee structure for funds and consulting services, and how to document plans well enough that future community foundation staff will be able to accurately follow through with the donor’s intent. While we are constantly making tweaks to our various donor service offerings, our commitment to using whichever tools are available to us to help donors achieve their goals will always remain.






Supporting Job Seekers Facing Multiple Barriers to Work

A new report by the Workforce Intelligence Network (WIN) for Southeast Michigan is providing a clearer picture of barriers facing Detroiters in our workforce system.

The McGregor Fund commissioned this comprehensive work with WIN in 2017 as they sought to learn more about the “various facets of the workforce system, focusing on the experience of a job seeker living in poverty and facing multiple barriers to employment,” in alignment with the fund’s economic mobility work.

"As a funder deeply curious about and committed to lifting up solutions to the 40 percent poverty rate in our city, McGregor Fund saw that WIN would be able to answer some of the most pressing questions we have about the network of providers and approaches for connecting jobseekers to work," Kate Levin Markel, president of the McGregor Fund said. 

After extensive research and interviews WIN and the McGregor Fund are sharing the findings of Supporting Job Seekers Facing Multiple Barriers to Work publicly to highlight the resources and challenges facing job seekers in Detroit where “labor force participating is unusually low.”

The report shares that only 61 percent of Detroit residents ages 16 to 64 are working or seeking work. Of those who are disconnected from the workforce, 55 percent do not have a high school diploma or certificate.

Research highlights:

  • The most common barriers to employment include safe and affordable housing, accessible transportation and affordable and accessible quality child care.

  • The most effective strategies for securing and maintaining employment combine initial work experience, coaching and direct support for basic needs such as transportation, child care and housing.

  • Coordination between workforce and other service sector networks, such as housing, are beneficial and much needed. The informal referral networks and relationships of each workforce agency become critical when assisting clients with barriers. Without this coordination, there is fragmentation for the job seeker.

  • Public workforce funding limitations and eligibility requirements cause many Detroiters to fall through the cracks when it comes to accessing direct support services. For instance, some programs may offer work readiness resources and support but have very specific eligibility requirements and limited time periods for job seekers to complete activities.

Researchers say these findings point to the need for a person-centered approach that supports individuals, addressing their unique needs as they look for jobs, whether its housing, transportation, child care, educational or training. The report provides a few recommendations that could help to strengthen the workforce system in supporting job seekers.


  • Create additional data infrastructure in the city and the workforce system to allow providers to better document and quantify the barriers faced by job seekers.

  • Increase coordination between the workforce system and other service sector systems, such as housing.

  • Establish effective referral tracking. Currently, it is seen as out of reach due to confidentiality concerns and the resources required to set up and maintain such a system.

  • Develop more research around the funding details by population to provide clarity on the resources available for job seekers facing specific barriers.

"Overwhelmingly, the WIN report confirms that successfully connecting jobseekers with employment opportunities requires going beyond skill development and also addressing basic material needs, such as housing, child care, and transportation," Markel said. "We’ll be sharing other key findings and how our foundation is incorporating them into our work in the coming weeks. And while the report focuses on Detroit, we do believe that many of its findings apply to other Michigan communities and raise important questions for some of our state partners."

Want more?

Read the full report.






Great Lakes Cleanup Linked to Community and Economic Revitalization

Cleanup efforts in our Great Lakes, even in the most polluted areas, can lead to community and economic revitalization – that’s according to a new report released by the International Association for Great Lakes Research (IAGLR).

The report, funded by the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, features case studies from 10 areas of concern, including three in Michigan: the Detroit River, Muskegon Lake and River Raisin.

The IAGLR states that the report provides a look at the “very tangible and often intangible benefits of Great Lakes cleanup” and provides a case for sustaining cleanup funding.

The three Michigan case studies examine the rise of industrialism, the devastating effects on the water quality and how the development of partnerships, increased collaboration, ongoing testing and cleanup efforts over the past three decades have resulted in significant improvements.

These improvements are not only apparent in the water quality but in the economic and community development that those areas are experiencing today. The report shares there is a clear connection between this work that has spanned decades and the economic benefits.

The economic impact:

Muskegon Lake

  • A $10 million Muskegon Lake restoration project was estimated to generate $60 million of economic benefits for the area over a 20-year period.

  • These economic benefits included:

    • A $12 million increase in prop­erty values.

    • More than $1 million in new recreational spending annually in Muskegon.

    • Nearly 65,000 additional visitors annually.

River Raisin

  • As part of revitalization efforts along the river, the city of Monroe established the River Raisin National Battlefield Park (RRNBP) which has consistently grown since it opened in 2013. The park attracted more than 238,000 visitors to the area in 2017 alone.

  • The economic impact in 2016 was estimated to be as high as $16.4 million.

Detroit River

  • The cleanup of the Detroit River has led to an engaging and vibrant waterfront which includes the 5.5-mile Detroit RiverWalk.

  • The $80 million investment in building the RiverWalk has led to $1 billion in public and private sector investments, with more than $1 billion expected over the next decade.

“These case studies demonstrate the critical importance of continuing to invest in the cleanup of our Great Lakes and the powerful impact these investments have on local communities,” Senator Debbie Stabenow said in a press release. “Working together, we will continue to tackle these challenges head-on, protecting our water and reviving communities across the region.”

Want more?

Read the full report.







The W.K. Kellogg Foundation is moving its Detroit office to the Fisher Building for greater opportunities for collaboration

Content excerpted and adapted from a foundation press release. Read the full release.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) announced last week that its Detroit regional office will be moving to the Fisher Building. As one of three offices in Michigan, WKKF’s new Detroit office will be located on the third floor of the Fisher Building.

Anticipating a move this fall, the larger space will offer more meeting rooms and greater opportunities for collaboration for WKKF staff based in the Detroit office, other foundation colleagues working in Michigan, grantees, funders and other partners who work together to improve outcomes for Detroit’s children. 

“Our commitment to Detroit is very important to the Kellogg Foundation,” Faye Nelson, director for Michigan programs said. “We are pleased to expand our presence, allowing us to be more responsive to the community, and bring people together across sectors to understand the critical connections needed for our children to thrive. We look forward to a grand opening celebration later this year when our move is complete.” 

Since 2013, WKKF has made more than $154 million in commitments in Detroit, representing roughly 40 percent of WKKF’s commitments in Michigan to support program priorities — thriving children, working families and equitable communities. 

Currently, the Kellogg Foundation’s Detroit team is working in temporary office space at WeWork Detroit on Woodward Avenue. Since 2017, the Ford Foundation has had a program officer working in Detroit, who will continue to share WKKF’s office space as part of the move to the Fisher Building.

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