Donor Advised Funds, Community Foundations, and the Promotion of “Good” Philanthropy: Part 2

Jul 13, 2020

This is the second article in a two-part blog series by Contributing Editors: Jeff Hamond, Vice President of Van Scoyoc Associates; and Peter Panepento, Board Chair of the Community Foundation of Howard County, Maryland. 

As the Community Foundation Public Awareness Initiative reaches out to Congressional offices on Capitol Hill and reporters who cover charitable giving and philanthropy issues, our personal experience with community foundations, such as Fairfield County’s Community Foundation (FCCF), and DAFs have helped us effectively tell their stories to an audience trained to be skeptical.

For example, Jeff often frames DAFs at community foundations as the best tool for a donor looking to transition from being “charitable” to being “philanthropic,” and how charity and philanthropy are not necessarily the same thing. We find that many Congressional staff in Washington have never had anyone explain this to them before – they are used to hearing about policy issues like payout rates or excise taxes, but not a lot about what personally motivates donors to be involved in their communities.

At FCCF, staff are working with Donor Advised fundholders who believe they can have greater philanthropic impact working with other donors on challenging regional issues. Foundation staff in fact proactively encourage them to consider collaborating with other donors.  Most recently, staff have introduced one fundholder interested in environmental issues to The Long Island Sound Funders’ Collaborative, where her DAF grant is now pooled with grants from 14 other foundations in both Connecticut and New York.

DAFs at community foundations also go into high-gear during a crisis, like the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since mid-March 2020, Donor Advised Funds at FCCF have deployed more than $1 million to its Fairfield CountyCOVID-19 Resiliency Fund.  As of June 30, the Fund has raised over $2.3 million and distributed more than $1.8 million in grants to 150 Fairfield County nonprofits on the frontlines of COVID-19 relief.

Additionally, $2.7 million from DAFs at FCCF were awarded through 169 COVID-related grants to local, state and national nonprofits.

Frequently, FCCF staff made customized grantmaking suggestions to fundholders in their areas of interest, thus enabling fundholders to take quick action and eliminating the need their own research.  FCCF staff recommended high-performing nonprofits to fundholders interested in food security, housing, community health care, distance learning, and services to immigrant communities.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, DAF donors at Fairfield County’s Community Foundation were updated about time-sensitive funding needs and quickly stepped in to help.  For example, FCCF had learned that a grant of $5,000 was needed by Cornerstone Community Church in Norwalk, Connecticut.  The grant would cover the expense of transporting significant food donations from Pennsylvania to Norwalk.  FCCF reached out to a DAF fundholder and recommended a DAF grant to Cornerstone Church the next day!  As a result, numerous Norwalk-based food pantries and clients quickly and efficiently benefitted.

These two specific benefits – using DAFs for crisis times such as COVID and using the assistance of a community foundation’s professional staff – are examples many Capitol Hill staff can relate to. We hope when they leave the Hill, they will get involved with their local community foundation!

Community foundations’ deep connections to community have always been important – but it’s critical now. Community foundations and their donors need every tool possible, including DAFs, to heal our communities and prepare for a better future.

To read part 1 of this blog series, please click here. 

Jeff Hamond
Vice President
Van Scoyoc Associates

In 2011, Jeff Hamond recognized something few others did – that philanthropic organizations were not doing enough to tell their story in Washington.  He felt so strongly about this, he left a senior economic policy position on Capitol Hill to develop and lead Van Scoyoc Associate’s Philanthropy Practice – the only one of its kind.

Today, as the field of philanthropy evolves quickly – with private foundations growing in policy influence, and also living donors, mission/impact investing, and social entrepreneurs playing an expanded role – Jeff is one of sector’s fiercest advocates.  He understands the enormously important role philanthropy and not-for-profits have in American society and culture, and helps these organizations highlight their work for policymakers.  As a Vice President at VSA, Jeff works directly with private and community foundations, and others in the philanthropic space, to share the good work they are doing in local communities, as well as educate lawmakers about the consequences of adverse policy decisions.

Before joining VSA, Jeff spent seven years as Economic Policy Director to Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and prior to that served in similar roles for Senators Kerry (D-MA) and Bayh (D-IN).  Jeff also had leading roles in policy development at two well-regarded non-profit organizations – Redefining Progress and the Progressive Policy Institute.

Jeff earned a Bachelor of Arts at Tufts University, then obtained a Master in Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government.


Peter Panetento
Board Chair
Community Foundation of Howard County

Peter Panepento is co-founder of Turn Two Communications, a Columbia-based public relations and communications firm that specializes in working with community foundations, nonprofits and socially minded companies. Panepento leads the Turn Two Communications’ philanthropic practice, including its work developing and executing a national PR and communications strategy for the Community Foundation Public Awareness Initiative, a coalition of 125 U.S. community foundations working to advance fair tax policies for donors and showing the importance of philanthropy to communities.

In addition, Panepento provides media and communications support to other community foundations—including The New York Community Trust, Greater Washington Community Foundation, Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and the Puerto Rico Community Foundation—as well as to nonprofits and companies.

Before becoming a consultant, he spent more than 20 years as a journalist, most recently at The Chronicle of Philanthropy, where he served as its first online editor and later as assistant managing editor. He also served as a senior vice president for the Council on Foundations, wrote Modern Media Relations for Nonprofits and contributes to Nonprofit Marketing Guide.

Panepento lives in Columbia and has been a member of the board of the Community Foundation of Howard County since 2016.