September 13, 2021

Monday, September 13, 2021

Creating and Deepening Inclusive Partnerships through Donor Advised Funds 

We’re digging deeper into the roles of donor advised funds (DAFs) at community foundations, sharing examples of DAFs in action around the state to learn more about their role in communities. 

We recently spoke to Jonse Young, director of philanthropic services at the Grand Rapids Community Foundation (GRCF), who leads the philanthropic services team managing the relationship between DAF holders and the community foundation. 

Of the 225 DAFs at the community foundation, Young shared that the goal is to ensure at least 80% of DAFs are making grants annually.

“Obviously there is a charitable tax benefit for DAF holders, but they are charitably minded,” Young said. “We make sure to work with them to make sure they see the importance of mobilizing those dollars.”

GRCF has shared the critical role DAF holders have played in their COVID-19 response efforts to continue advancing toward recovery and reimagining the community’s future, with DAFs increasing the amount of grant dollars distributed to nonprofits by 23% in 2020 alone.

Young shared how the community foundation structures DAF opportunities both for short-term and long-term community support and continues to work to unlock new opportunities for donors of all giving levels in the community.

Over the years, GRCF has adjusted their DAF donor requirements in an effort to better promote diversity in age, socioeconomic backgrounds and beyond. 

“We looked at the diversity of our DAF holders and saw that they were not diverse in age, so we lowered the fund minimum, and we also created a spend-down option that allows the donor to use it as a charitable checkbook to spend it out and then replenish it,” Young said.

GRCF’s DAFs can be established as endowed, non-endowed (spendable) or a hybrid of both. 

As CMF has shared, endowed DAFs serve as permanent charitable capital, designed to address community needs now and in the future, allowing foundations that hold endowed DAFs to draw on those assets forever. A non-endowed or spendable DAF is intended to be used by donors to fill the fund and payout the majority of the fund within a short period of time.

The community foundation has also allowed donors to build a fund over five years and then spend down to increase feasibility for more people to give as DAF holders. As a result of these changes, GRCF has seen more younger donors open DAFs. 

The community foundation continues to work to increase racial and ethnic diversity amongst their DAF holders. 

Young shared that GRCF supports individuals, families, nonprofits, companies and communities in West Michigan to achieve their philanthropic goals and move the needle forward on racial, social and economic justice in Kent County. The community foundation shares funding opportunities that align with their core principles of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) with donor advisors. 

“We’ve taken a strong stand around our North Star guiding principles that centers around DEI,” Young said. 

All of GRCF’s grantmaking, fund development, communication, administration, finance and human resources aligns with their North Star principles which states,  “for West Michigan to grow and prosper, we must make sure that everyone can apply their talents and creativity to fuel our future. It is only by connecting across perspectives and overcoming inequities that we can build and sustain an inclusive economy and thriving community.”

Want more?

CMF 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. CMF has also crafted a comprehensive FAQ on DAFs and Payout Rates to help our community of philanthropy and sector partners navigate phase 3 of our payout rate research series.

Through the development of this research and its release the CMF team has uncovered many untapped opportunities to share the roles and functions of DAFs in communities both within our sector and more broadly. We invite you to read more impactful DAF stories emerging from our network of Michigan community foundations. 



A Guide to the Mackinac Policy Conference

Leaders in philanthropy, business, education and government are gathering in person on Mackinac Island and virtually next week for the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference.

This year’s conference sessions focus on equity and investment in key systems that are vital to Michiganders’ well-being and prosperity.

Several CMF members are hosting sessions on topics relevant to their programmatic areas. They will share insights and information on education, creating economic opportunities, addressing COVID-19 recovery efforts and more.

Member-led sessions include:

•    What Michiganders Want: Investments in Children. The Skillman Foundation’s new president and CEO, Angelique Power, will host a conversation on a survey sponsored by the foundation and Michigan’s Children that found Michiganders want more investment in kids. Panelists will discuss the survey results and how leaders can advocate for increased funding in youth.

•    Advancing Economic Equity Through Reparative Policy. Hosted by The Kresge Foundation, this session is a follow-up to Detroit Future City’s June 24 Equity Forum and will explore policy changes required for increased economic equity.

•    A Discussion with Rosalind Brewer and Christy McDonald. Sponsored by W.K. Kellogg Foundation, in this session, Rosalind Brewer, CEO, Walgreens Boots Alliance will be in conversation with Christy McDonald, Anchor, Detroit Public Television.

•    Preparing K-12 for Postsecondary Success. Sponsored by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, WDET’s Stephen Henderson moderates a main stage panel with The Skillman Foundation’s Angelique Power and college and career experts to discuss how to best prepare students for college and the workforce. You can also catch Henderson as one of our main stage speakers at CMF’s Annual Conference.

•    American Rescue Plan: Opportunities for Transformative Partnerships to Advance Equitable Recovery. CMF president Kyle Caldwell and David Egner, president and CEO of the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation will talk with county government leaders to discuss how to best utilize federal funding to support Michigan communities and the value of partnerships to ensuring an equitable recovery. This builds off of CMF and our members’ engagement with the Michigan Association of Counties (MAC) and the work of the Strategic Support Working Group Pilot.

Several of CMF’s corporate members are also sponsoring sessions to bring in thought leaders to discuss how our state can work towards building a more equitable and prosperous future for all Michiganders.

If you can’t make it to the island, you can follow all the action online, September 20 through 23. Detroit Public Television will provide live and recorded coverage of the speakers throughout the conference. Here are philanthropy-led and connected topic areas you may want to join virtually next week:

•    September 20 at 4 p.m.: The Skillman Foundation hosts What Michiganders Want: Investments in Children. 

•    September 21 at 9 a.m.: The Kresge Foundation hosts Advancing Economic Equity Through Reparative Policy.

•    September 22 at 9:10 a.m.: The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation sponsors Preparing K-12 for Postsecondary Success.

•    September 22 at 11:50 a.m.: The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation hosts American Rescue Plan: Opportunities for Transformative Partnerships to Advance Equitable Recovery.

•    September 22 at 2:40 p.m.: Keynote address by Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Want more?

View the full agenda.

Follow the Detroit Chamber on Twitter for up-to-date information from the conference.

Follow Detroit Public TV on Twitter for conference coverage.



The Knight Foundation Invests in Personal Delivery Technology in Detroit

Sidewalk delivery devices will soon appear in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood thanks to a collaboration supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Lieutenant Governor Garland Gilchrest II announced that Detroit is one of four U.S. cities to pilot safe delivery technology to help residents shop via small businesses. 

The program, a collaboration between the Office of Future Mobility, the city of Detroit, the Corktown Business Association, Central Station—the Ford Motor Company’s new mobility innovation district in Corktown— and Newlab on the pilot with Kiwibot aims to help businesses meet delivery demands as a result of the pandemic.

“This pilot with Kiwibot builds on our commitment to provide our small businesses with innovative resources to grow and thrive, while providing residents with affordable, equitable access to critical goods like food and medicine,” Gilchrist said in a press release. “Detroit is continuing to lead the way when it comes to inclusive and sustainable urban development as well as mobility technology testing and deployment through projects like Kiwibot.”

The project is part of the Knight Foundation’s efforts to include residents in automation projects in Detroit. Five delivery robots—with a human supervisor—will be available for local businesses to deliver goods to residents in Detroit, Pittsburgh, Miami-Dade County and San Jose.

"People should always be at the center of how these new mobility solutions are being deployed, which is why we're thrilled to support collaborations with Kiwibot in San Jose, Miami, Pittsburgh and Detroit that truly demonstrate the power of resident-informed strategies," said Lilian Coral, director for National Strategy and Technology Innovation at the Knight Foundation said in a press release. "The application of digital technology during the pandemic to facilitate the movement of people and goods has helped shape how cities respond to unprecedented challenges."

So far, Kiwibot has completed over 150,000 robot-led deliveries across the country. The Corktown program will serve as a pilot for possible citywide and statewide delivery solutions for small businesses.
Collaborators are working to ensure this program puts the safety and well-being of residents first and that it will make small business patronage more equitable in Corktown.

“We have an opportunity, and a responsibility, to leverage our vast mobility ecosystem to spur innovative solutions to the challenges presented by the spread of the pandemic and help our community feel safe during this time of need,” Trevor Pawl, chief mobility officer of the state of Michigan said. “This collaboration is yet another example of the power of Michigan’s powerful public-private network to bring safe, sustainable and equitable mobility solutions to all residents.”

Want more?

Read the full press release from Lt. Governor Gilchrist's Office.  

Read the Knight Foundation’s press release.



Member Spotlight

Michigan Gateway Community Foundation Highlights Student Success through Promise Scholarship

The Michigan Gateway Community Foundation (MGCF) is celebrating student stories and highlighting their educational journey through Buchanan Promise.  

Buchanan Promise is a post-secondary education scholarship program that provides financial assistance to graduates of Buchanan Community Schools residing within the Buchanan School District geographic boundaries. Eligible students will receive a place-based scholarship to assist families with the cost of attending a college or university, trade or certificate program. 

In 2016, MGCF announced the scholarship endowment fund, funded by a $7 million bequest from the estate of Walter E. Schirmer, Jr., whose family established the foundation in 1978. Schirmer, who passed away in May, was a 1954 graduate of Buchanan High School and long-time advocate of the area.

The high school graduating class of 2017 was the first to receive the Promise Scholarship. Four years later, MGCF is sharing the stories of these students who are now graduating college through their video series Presenting: Promise Fulfilled. 

Their first video of the series highlights Alex Tobler who recently graduated from Adrian College and received the full $10,000 Buchanan Award Promise. 

Tobler shared that if she didn’t receive the Promise, she would’ve had to take out loans in the amount she received from the scholarship. 

“The Buchanan Promise has allowed me to continue my education. The scholarship has allowed people to try different things and use the money towards different things because it’s a gift and I think it’s a gift that keeps on giving,” Tobler shared in the video. 

Want more? 

Learn more about the Buchanan Promise. 

Watch the full Presenting: Promise Fulfilled video. 

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