I have been a donor for over 20 years. I get so much joy from supporting my community, especially when my family decides together on a donation or strategy for our modest-but-important-to-us philanthropy. I consider myself an organized person. I even have a lot of spreadsheets to my name. And my job is to lead the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona (CFSA). Yet — true confession — I still find it hard to track my giving at times.
At a deeper level, I have wondered if my family’s philanthropy is having the most impact. Americans gave $484.85 billion in 2021. There are more than 1.5 million charitable organizations in our country. Those are big numbers. There is so much need and so many choices. Is there a way to give smarter?
If any of this sounds familiar, I have three suggestions for you to make your philanthropy easier and more impactful: join forces with your neighbors, keep it local and build trust. At CFSA, we partner with individuals, families and businesses on all three — collective giving, local impact and trust-based philanthropy.
Join forces with your neighbors
Established in 2021, our Field of Interest Impact Funds offers a simple and effective way to participate in collective impact funding in the areas you care about most. These funds are a great option for individuals who are passionate about a specific cause — animal welfare or workforce development, for instance — but might not be familiar with or want to be limited to a specific nonprofit working in that area. Collective giving also pools the resources available, so your contribution goes further.
CFSA’s impact funds welcome donations of any size. Whether you are 16 or 60, your contribution will increase the availability of general operating support for our nonprofit partners, making a difference in your area of passion.
Keep it local
We have recently seen the power of local, collective giving through our Environmental Sustainability Impact Fund with the launch of our Nonprofit Solar Project in April. The project offers local nonprofits the opportunity to meet a significant portion of their energy needs through solar power, reducing their carbon footprint and freeing up resources for programming or other infrastructure needs. The project was developed by CFSA in partnership with local donors and Solar United Neighbors and received additional generous support from Tucson Foundations and Tucson Electric Power.
The first round of recipients has just been announced. I am excited to share that $630,000 will be invested in the coming months to provide solar installations for the following nonprofit organizations:
• Coyote TaskForce
• The Drawing Studio
• The Edge School
• Emerge! Center Against
• Sonoran Glass School
•Youth On Their Own
Two of the most significant barriers to a vibrant Southern Arizona are environmental risks and inequity. By coming together through CFSA’s Impact Funds, members of our generous community have directly and simultaneously addressed those barriers by connecting these seven nonprofit organizations with technology that saves them dollars and reduces their environmental impact.
In addition to collective impact funding, CFSA is also committed to an intense focus on general operating support grants and other tenets of trust-based philanthropy, which increases the capacity and strength of nonprofit organizations and partnerships throughout Southern Arizona. CFSA recognizes that an effective philanthropic community is one where nonprofits receive sustained, flexible funding and one where donors are directly connected to the causes they care about most.
If you are interested in learning more about the principles and practices of trust-based philanthropy, I would like to personally invite you to join us for a special event from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 18, at the Community Foundation Campus. CFSA leadership will discuss our foundation’s journey in implementing trust-based philanthropy and how we are actualizing our commitment to building grantee and funder relationships grounded in transparency and mutual learning. Local nonprofit leaders from across Southern Arizona will also be present to share how trust-based funding has allowed them to maximize their impact within the communities they serve. This event will be informative for current and prospective CFSA donors, as well as funding partners interested in learning more about trust-based philanthropy.
If you are looking to contribute to our nonprofit sector as a volunteer, our Center for Healthy Nonprofits is hosting a highly interactive BoardConnect event from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 25. This event offers community members throughout Southern Arizona the opportunity to meet with over 30 local nonprofits and learn about the different volunteer opportunities they have available. From working directly with clients to helping with essential tasks to serving on a committee or board of directors, there are many ways to contribute your time and talents to help serve our community and improve the quality of life in Southern Arizona.
Whatever approach you choose when you support Southern Arizona’s nonprofit sector, you are helping to provide critical services for our community’s most vulnerable populations and increasing the efficacy and sustainability of Arizona’s fifth-largest nongovernment employer. Nonprofits in Arizona generate more direct jobs and have payrolls exceeding those of most other local industries – including construction, transportation and finance.
Beyond the numbers is the social impact of investing in our nonprofit partners. A thriving nonprofit sector increases educational attainment, food security, housing affordability, and many other factors essential to creating a vibrant and equitable community that I am proud to join my neighbors in supporting.
To learn more about CFSA’s services, funds, and initiatives, visit cfsaz.org or call us at 520-770-0800. Together, we can have a greater impact for good in Southern Arizona.
Jenny Flynn is president and CEO of the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona.
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