Looking back on a year of impact for NCCF funds

Happy New Year! At NCCF, we have two opportunities to celebrate the start of a new year –in January and then in April when our fiscal year begins. That means it is also a time to look back on the previous year.

And it was quite a year! Typically, when you hear that said about 2020, it is in reference to the many challenges we faced both nationally and globally. In this case, and even despite that adversity, we are celebrating!

In 2020, NCCF distributed $33,525,521 in charitable dollars through grants and scholarships. By comparison, that number was $21.9 million in 2019 and $16.5 million in 2018.

The majority of those grants, about 61%, totaling $19,318,541, were made through our donor advised funds. As you know, NCCF offers a variety of types of funds as vehicles for philanthropy, and it is customary for donor advised funds to represent the largest percentage of our charitable dollars each year.

In 2020, we welcomed a couple new funds into the family that boosted that impact, including our partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield NC. The company launched a fund for grantmaking to support their statewide Rural Health Initiative and then added grants for Community Health Pillars in response to COVID-19. Also, the Election Administration Assistance Fund was established to provide support for local boards of election in facilitating a safe voting process during the pandemic.

Donor advised fundholders also stood up to respond to COVID-19. These funds, along with our affiliate community foundations and women’s giving funds, issued almost $5 million in grants supporting needs related to COVID-19, such as food programs, hospitals/clinics, utility assistance, education, restaurant worker relief and farmer relief.

Another way we look at the impact of our grantmaking is by the type of service or cause that is supported by the funding – also known as the “program area” of the grants. You can see the program area distribution of 2020 grantmaking displayed in this pie chart.

Typically, the areas of education, health and human services occupy the significant majority of this chart with some shifts among them in terms of their rank order by total amount.

In 2020, we saw a bit of an outlier with the area of public and societal benefit topping the list, based on a few unusual grantmaking streams, but beyond that, our trio remains steadfast.

“Health saw about a 3% increase in 2020, which makes sense during the year of a global pandemic,” Grants Program Manager Christopher Fipps pointed out. “Human services remaining strong also aligns with the most pressing needs of the community this past year.”

Now, we are a quarter into the new year already, and lately I seem to be having a lot of conversations that reflect on “this time last year.” Typically, these reflections are about what we did not know then, what we had no idea about in terms of what the future would hold. I have plenty of those reflections for sure.

Looking back on April 2020, I can see that I shared with you all then that “an article in The Chronicle of Philanthropy opened with the declaration that the coronavirus pandemic has sparked an ‘explosion of grant making from donor-advised funds’…a trend that is often seen in a crisis like this one that comes with economic impacts, because donor-advised funds hold dollars that are already set aside for charitable purposes.”  I would say that was proven true at NCCF.

Seeing now what we accomplished together, I am inspired and grateful. And I cannot wait to see what is in store for 2021!