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Back to the Future



I am a philanthropy nerd.

I enjoy checking out what is new in the fundraising and grant-making world, learning about current trends and learning about the art of philanthropy. I get inspired by every gift of $18, or $18,000.

A first-time gift makes my day, and talking with philanthropists is my meeting a star athlete moment.

The pandemic has served as an innovation incubator and accelerator, and has given us permission to try new things.

Collective Action

Richmond, and specifically our Jewish Community, have shown their compassion and generosity in so many ways. It also has served as a direct and clear example of the power of collective action and unrestricted giving.

The trend back to long-term, trust-based, unrestricted giving has been building over many years and appears to be accelerating. Recently, nearly 800 funders and philanthropic leaders pledged to ease restrictions on their giving, and some of the nation’s biggest philanthropists are following the trend.

Mackenzie Scott, novelist, actress and former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, for example, has given away $8.5 billion over the past year, and she has emphasized unrestricted, multi-year grants to trusted and respected non-profits.

Locally, our own experience has been similar with our Annual Campaign breaking records and similar results at many local agencies and organizations, including Feed More, United Way and the Community Foundation.

Unrestricted Giving

Unrestricted giving has long been part of our Jewish Philanthropic tradition. Our history and teaching talks of Community Kupah, Tzedakah and the importance of full philanthropic participation. Everyone has a role to play in the act of philanthropy regardless.

“Just as in a coat of mail each and every scale joins the others to form one large piece of armor, so every small coin given to charity combines with the rest to form a large sum….Just as in a garment each and every thread unites with the others to form a whole garment, so every small coin given to charity unites with the rest to form a large sum.” BABYLONIAN TALMUD, BABA BATRA 9B

Federation was ready to act in response to crisis because we were there for the prior days, weeks and months. Our community had built and sustained a philanthropic engine that positioned Federation to respond powerfully and efficiently.

We existed as a strong, well-functioning organization and could jump into action at a moment’s notice. All of that is because of the generous and widespread support of the unrestricted Annual Campaign.

We knew we could deploy and redirect resources to the most urgent and current needs, even before we raised more.

That is the true power and impact of our collective response and the core of our work as a Federation.

And for this philanthropy nerd, it’s nice to know we are coming back into style.

To reach out to me, email daniel@jewishrichmond.org.


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