July 19, 2021

Monday, July 19, 2021

Exploring Local Community Foundation Donor Advised Funds

CMF recently released phase 3 of our payout rate research series, Analysis of Donor Advised Funds from a Community Foundation Perspective, focusing on the payout rates of donor advised funds (DAFs) within the context of the philanthropic sector, specifically the payout rates of DAFs administered by Michigan community foundations.

We’re digging deeper into the roles of DAFs at community foundations, sharing examples of DAFs in action to help our community of philanthropy better understand this charitable giving tool, and consider the study’s findings in a local context. 

We recently spoke to Capital Region Community Foundation, who says that DAFs have unlocked new opportunities for community members to get involved, allowing the community foundation to act as a conduit between donors and community needs.

According to Dennis Fliehman, president and CEO of Capital Region Community Foundation, DAF holders will seek the help of the community foundation to make an impact.

“The fact that they have a connection with the community foundation gives them the opportunity to tap into the knowledge that we have about local organizations they can help. Through this connection, we can help cement relationships which in turn results in more philanthropy,” Fliehman said. 

Laurie Baumer, executive vice president of the community foundation, shared that there is more benefit to DAF donors going through community foundations instead of commercial organizations because of their knowledge of the community they serve.

“We are relational, and we can give donors opportunities to be responsive to the needs of their community,” Baumer said.

In northern Michigan, the Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation (PHSACF) also shared the benefits of donors collaborating with community foundations. 

“When donors partner with us, they benefit immediately from the knowledge and community connections we have,” David ‘DJ’ Jones, executive director of PHSACF, said. 

According to Jones, a donor’s deep connection to their community and their personal stories have been part of what motivates them to create DAFs. 

Jones shared the story of one of their DAF holders, a couple who lost their son at birth and created a DAF in his memory to contribute to community projects. 

“They are a young couple, just starting out but it was very important to them to be able to give back to their community and they were able to get the funds together to memorialize their son,” Jones said. 

Another couple with generational ties to the community made the Petoskey area their full-time home, and moved a commercial DAF to the community foundation.

“They saw the depth and breadth of our work and wanted to support the community they love” Mary Cummings, communications officer at PHSACF, said. “Since then, they have decided to become a part of our legacy society and are in the process of planning an estate gift to the community foundation.” 

Some community foundations have seen that donors who start a DAF are engaging in other opportunities with the foundation.

“Not only do they create DAFs but they join boards and volunteer. They give back to this community in numerous ways, financially and with their time,” Jones said. “DAFs are not a tool that they just use once at the end of the year; it’s one part to their overall commitment to our community.” 

Fliehman says that DAFs can also serve as an educational and inspirational tool for the next generation. 

“We’ve had several families that have specifically set up DAFs to educate their children and grandchildren about charitable giving,” Fliehman said. 

According to Fliehman, one family of donors gets together each year during Thanksgiving to decide how to spend the year’s distribution as a way to educate the younger generation and combine family time with philanthropy. 

In the coming weeks and months, we look forward to continued feature storytelling on the role of DAFs and other vehicles for giving. 

Want more?

We invite you to read Analysis of Donor Advised Funds from a Community Foundation Perspective and the full payout rate research series. 

Join our national webinar “A Data-Informed Dialogue on DAF Payout” on July 22 welcoming foundation peers around the country, the leaders and research teams from CMF and the Johnson Center, and national sector partners as we together explore the study's key findings and consider how these knowledge insights can inform foundation policies, practices and grantmaking goals in our efforts to support equitable thriving communities.




Moving Michigan Education Forward with Educator Input

Launch Michigan is sharing new insights gathered from 5,000 surveyed educators as part of an effort to help move Michigan public education forward. 

Launch Michigan is a collaborative of education, philanthropy, business and other leaders across the state, including CMF and several CMF members.

“When it comes to building Michigan’s workforce for the future, educators are essential. We can’t afford to sit by as retirements spike and enrollment in teacher preparation programs drops precipitously,” Adam Zemke, president of Launch Michigan said in a press release. “We are in the midst of a crisis that is growing with each passing year, and the impact of COVID-19 on the profession has exacerbated the trend. As we work to reverse course, it makes tremendous sense for us to begin by asking teachers and other education professionals themselves which elements can do the most to keep them satisfied in their work.”

Launch Michigan fielded a similar survey in 2019 to gather insights from Michigan teachers, support staff and administrators, to listen to what they believe is needed to provide a best in class education to all Michigan students. 

CMF reported on the findings of the 2019 survey. 

According to Launch Michigan’s lead researcher, Emma White, principal and CEO of Emma White Research LLC, this year’s survey added new questions and provided an opportunity to reflect upon 2019 findings to see what has or has not changed. 

“We learned in 2019 that there are pieces of educator’s jobs that they enjoy but there’s also a deep feeling that the profession is not respected and some frustrations that limit job satisfaction. That same thing is true now; we didn’t see a lot of change with that in the pandemic,” White said.

The survey asked questions specific to educator’s experience during the pandemic as well as their experience more broadly. 

Key takeaways from the survey:

•    70% of educators responded that lack of support from policymakers affects their career satisfaction, compared to 72% in 2019. 

•    73% of teachers are satisfied with being a teacher, compared to 77% in 2019.

•    81% of educators responded that increasing salary would make them feel more respected.

•    10% of educators believe Michigan public schools are doing poorly compared to 13% in 2019.

•    57% of educators believe allocating funding based on student need is a top priority, 59% in 2019.

•    More teachers (58%) feel empowered in 2021, compared to 56% in 2019.

•    14% of teachers indicated their interest in retiring compared to 10% in 2019.

•    31% of teachers would recommend the profession to young people compared to 25% in 2019. 

Other results expand on educator thoughts around what they need to feel education is respected as a profession, what they are looking for in terms of career development and what they think would improve schools. 

According to White, one of the points of the survey is to make sure the voices of educators are included in the decision making space. 

“The survey can be used as an opportunity for policy makers to listen to what matters to teachers and to think about what can change to attract and retain really strong professionals in the field,” White said. 

Launch Michigan plans to administer a survey to additional stakeholder groups, including Michigan philanthropy. We invite you to stay tuned for a survey invitation to welcome your insights on public education. 

Want more?

Read the full report. 

Join the Office of Foundation Liaison and CMF’s P-20 Education Affinity Group on August 4th for a discussion on the state of early childhood in Michigan and how philanthropy can support the system for the future. 



Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT): Adapting in Year Four

As the Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) moves into its fifth year of implementation we’re getting an inside look at how the sites adapted to the past year through the pandemic and national reckoning for racial justice. 

CMF is the statewide convener supporting the four sites and the initiative is led by The W.K. Kellogg Foundation.  

During the pandemic each site found various ways to continue their work and even enhance it in online or social distanced formats. 

Activities of the past year include:

•    Virtual racial healing circles and online dissemination of National Day of Racial Healing activities.

•    Information sharing across TRHT sites in Michigan and nationally. 

•    Added or reframed activities in response to national and local demonstrations against police violence.

•    Sustainability planning as the sites enter their fifth grant year.

The report highlights the ways each site adapted in the pandemic including increased virtual activities and intentional support for community members who lacked internet access.

Racial healing work occurred online, enabling people who might not typically participate to join the circles. 

Several projects and initiatives came out of the sites’ pandemic work. 

The pandemic and 2020 uprisings led to new opportunities and partnerships. 

The Flint site, hosted by the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, developed an effective response to the pandemic through the formation of the COVID-19 Taskforce on Racial Inequities, designed to raise awareness of disparate COVID-19 outcomes in the Flint community. 

The taskforce engaged community stakeholders across sectors to identify ways to provide equitable access to community services and resources.

The taskforce was formed as a partnership of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, the Michigan State University Division of Public Health, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, City of Flint, Flint and Genesee Chamber of Commerce, Hamilton Community Health Network and Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church.

The following were outcomes of the taskforce’s work: 

•    Established three COVID-19 vaccination sites that administered nearly 20,000 vaccines.

•    Supported the initiation and passage of resolutions designating racism as a public health crisis by the city of Flint and Genesee County municipal governments, including the county health department.

•    Operationalized the health crisis declaration by gathering resources to hire consultants who engaged the community through dialogues, focus groups, and a community advisory committee to determine approaches to address the crisis.

•    Worked with Mass Transportation Authority Flint to coordinate transportation to testing and vaccination sites for residents without “easy” transportation access.

•    Hosted a virtual roundtable with Black and Latinx small business owners and financial institution leaders to discuss barriers to capital access for minority businesses.

The Kalamazoo site, which is hosted by the Kalamazoo Community Foundation, adapted their online formats in response to the pandemic. Their virtual racial healing work has served as a model for other TRHT sites. 

The site has also started offering special racial healing sessions for affinity groups as the sessions provide a trusting and safe environment. 

According to the report, the Kalamazoo site also has worked to influence local narratives and policy initiatives around issues relating to race.

Kalamazoo’s Housing Equity Ordinance addresses the systemic obstacles to housing that the city’s most vulnerable residents face. The ordinance aims to reduce housing disparities in the cCity of Kalamazoo by protecting against housing discrimination.

The ordinance prohibits housing rejections for any demographic group and instituted new protections for people with housing vouchers and county identification cards, as well as those exiting incarceration. It also regulates rental housing application fees. 

Through this work several new partnerships were created and sites were able to connect with harder to reach groups. 

In Battle Creek, after a TRHT-cosponsored vigil in honor of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and other individuals who lost their lives  through interactions with police and police violence, community members created a garden for residents to safely enjoy in person in the pandemic. 

The Urban Memorial & Racial Healing Garden is a place for residents to gather to plant flowers and connect with one another. The garden was established through a partnership with TRHT, the Southwestern Michigan Urban League, the Sojourner Truth Center for Liberation and Justice and the city of Battle Creek, with funding support from the Battle Creek Community Foundation.

According to the report, during summer and fall 2020, over 100 individuals and families came together in the garden to participate in planting events and activities. 

TRHT sites prioritized building relationships with their community organizations over the last year. As one example, the Lansing site continued to nurture partnerships and relationship-build with area First Nations, youth and faith communities. 

The site also convened a roundtable for Black business owners in partnership with Lansing Economic Area Partnership. 

The site is further developing an ambassadorship program to educate community organizations about TRHT and how they can get involved. 

The Lansing People’s Assembly was created through partnerships and designed to provide community members with a clear mechanism for shaping government, identifying community needs and translating the needs into policy and action. 

The assembly was convened by One Love Global, Liberation PAC, Black Lives Matter Lansing, The Village Lansing and Black Lives Matter Michigan Allyship. 

The Assembly resulted in more than 80 ideas for community change. 

As TRHT enters its fifth grant year, each site has several plans for their future work, including the following highlights:

•    Battle Creek: Continue visioning/strategic planning, onboard fundraising and marketing positions.

•    Flint: Implement Courageous Conversations, continue leading COVID-19 Taskforce on Racial Inequities, issue subgrants and continue Choice Neighborhoods Initiative.

•    Kalamazoo: Add an additional full-time staff position, launch a campaign to raise awareness of racial equity issues and resources countywide, continue to study whether TRHT work should continue to be housed at the community foundation or become its own entity.

•    Lansing: Launch accountability scorecard, continue developing Beloved Community Fund and youth programming, continue network-building efforts.

Want more? 

Learn more about TRHT. 

Battle Creek.




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