by Katy Moore, Managing Director, Corporate Strategy, Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers
and Amy Owen, Executive Director, Community Foundation for Loudoun & Northern Fauquier Counties
Meet Susan. She represents the average donor in Loudoun County and the type of resident that a dedicated, cross-sector group of county leaders is actively working to reach and influence. We want Susan to invest her time and philanthropic resources in Loudoun and encourage her neighbors to do the same.
Here’s the challenge:
Like 53 percent of her fellow residents, Susan leaves Loudoun County every day for work, loosening her ties to her community. Like a substantive majority of other households in the county, Susan’s income is about $120,000 – a good quality of life in one of the “happiest” counties in the U.S. Unfortunately, like many of her fellow residents, Susan doesn’t think much about charitable giving. She donates about 2 percent of her discretionary income – a full 1 percent behind the national average – partly because many of Loudoun County’s needs are “hidden” from Susan:
• Although there were 134 county residents experiencing homelessness at the last Point in Time study, Susan has never met one and rarely, if ever, hears about the challenges of homelessness in the county.
• Susan doesn’t see hungry people as she dines at the county’s many restaurants and shops at the many farmers markets, even though Loudoun Interfaith Relief – the county’s largest local food pantry – served more than 17,000 people last year.
• Loudoun Cares, the local information and referral hotline, processed more than 4,000 referrals in 2015 from people seeking help in rent and utility assistance, clothing, and more. But, those folks don’t call Susan.
• 315 low-income households receive supplemental day-care support from Loudoun County Department of Family services, and, as of last November, more than 500 families were on the department’s waiting list. Susan doesn’t think she knows those people and she doesn’t see or hear about them in the media.
Susan’s situation – strong household income, but moderate charitable giving – is a common combination across America. Those who don’t see or come into immediate contact with “need” tend to give less. But, WRAG and the Community Foundation for Loudoun and Northern Fauquier Counties are working to change that pattern in Loudoun.
Since WRAG’s 2015 Loudoun County Philanthropy Conference, an impressive group of cross-sector leaders has been working together to identify needs and gaps in the county and explore strategies to tackle them. The group is currently working on a robust community awareness campaign to elevate the face of need in Loudoun and encourage increased and more effective philanthropic investments from residents. The campaign is currently set to launch in early 2017. This collaborative effort is generously supported by the Community Foundation for Loudoun & Northern Fauquier Counties, the Claude Moore Charitable Foundation, the Community Foundation for the National Capital Area, and the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia.
If you’d like more information or want to get involved, please contact Amy Owen at firstname.lastname@example.org.