Lori 2020

This article ran in the Triangle Business Journal in January 2021, as a part of the A Better World series.


At the start of each new year, it is human nature to assess the past and attempt a clean slate moving forward. It is often the time we make resolutions and pledge to try new or different things in the coming twelve months. To that end, I offer you the following ways to think differently about giving back in 2021.

Fund an Organization’s Full Cost

We know that donors often make gifts to their favorite nonprofit organizations that tug on their heartstrings, for example, a winter coat drive or a monetary donation to provide meals to a family for a week. These are of course, vital donations, but because sending general operating support gifts is not as exciting and has been unfortunately scrutinized, organizations can lack the resources to cover the full cost of running day to day operations, which can ultimately affect their mission. However, institutional funders are building awareness around how funding the full, or true, costs of nonprofit organizations can positively impact mission delivery and sustainability.

“While full cost funding is a concept that has been championed in some philanthropic circles for years, some of our foundation partners are intentionally learning how to put it into practice,” said Gladys Hairston, Director of Learning, Research and Evaluation, John Rex Endowment. Grantees are participating in these discussions with us so we can learn from them about their non-programmatic needs and build more trusting relationships with them. Ultimately, that trust will become deeper from funder and donor behavior changes that makes Full Cost funding not just a concept to learn about, but actions we’re taking in the form of new funding approaches.”

Choose to Support Women

Women have always been at the forefront of social change, and after a challenging year like the one we just had, supporting women through philanthropy will make a real difference in our collective future. As we recently saw in Now’s Our Chance: After A Tumultuous 2020, Women Leaders Share 8 Ways To Rebuild A Better World, an article in Forbes Magazine, “Making even a modest financial contribution to a local women’s fund or foundation means you’re investing in the leadership, resources, and decision-making power of women in your community.”  There are several women’s giving circles playing an active role in the Triangle’s philanthropic sector, and most of them are open to new members.

Our giving circle, comprised of African-American women based in Durham, affords members the opportunity to engage and support women, children, and community organizations on a very personal level,” said Willette Carter, Treasurer, 20/20 Sisters of Vision. “It’s a great sense of accomplishment and personal satisfaction to provide this financial support, and in many cases, this “giving” is sometimes life-changing for the recipients and often results in a continued relationship.”

Make Different Corporate Investments

The typical corporate investments of the past have become stale, and bold, creative ways to be catalysts for change in our communities are becoming the norm. If you are a part of the leadership at your office, look to programs like GSK’s IMPACT Awards and Bank of America’s Neighborhood Builders program to inspire your company’s next wave of giving.

“The GSK IMPACT Awards program honors local nonprofit organizations that make the Triangle Region healthier with unrestricted funding that can be used to expand programs or increase organizational capacity” said Becki Lynch, Director of US Community Partnerships at GSK. “Now more than ever, we recognize the value that essential service nonprofits provide and their important role in keeping the communities where we live and work safe and healthy.”

Think Wealth Creation vs. Wealth Distribution

Impact investments are made with the intention to generate positive, measurable, social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. Use this knowledge in the new year to change the way you think about your own giving and investments. Consider investing in a local CDFI or Minority Depository Institute that allows for wealth growth in communities where it is most needed, as well as a financial return for you.

“It is time for all of us to rethink the way we accumulate and use our assets,” said Luis Pastor, CEO, Latino Community Credit Union. “We need to recognize the impact that we can make by simply depositing our assets at institutions that are committed to the social and economic causes that we care about. We can do as much good by making the right deposit at a financial institution aligned with our values as we can do with the charitable money that we decide to donate.”

The last year caused us to take pause and really think about how we lived and worked, and I believe we can use those insights to evolve our giving for greater impact.  As with so many aspects of our daily lives, I think it’s time we all lean into a new normal for giving.