Charitable Giving on a Budget

Although it’s still late summer, some people are ready to start planning for the season of giving. Gifts will be carefully chosen for family and friends, scrumptious desserts will be baked and ready to eat, and holiday decorations hung up around the house. What about giving back to the community though? Unfortunately most of us aren’t made of money so when it comes to charitable giving, planning a budget is a necessity. Here are a few tips to start planning for the upcoming holiday season!


Donate your clutter

Go through your house and clear out any unwanted items or things you don’t need that others could use more. Here are a few organizations to start with that accept donations:


Pool your money

Create a small giving circle within your friends and family to pool all your money together and make one large donation to the organization of your choosing.


Set aside part of your income

Try to set aside at least 3% of your income on a regular basis to ensure you’ll have a little something to give and still have a separate pool of money for family gifts.


Employer match donations

Most corporate employers have matching funds or grants that match its employees’ charitable contributions. Some matching gifts are dollar-for-dollar but others can be double or triple the donation.


Blood/plasma donations

When donating money isn’t an option, don’t forget you can donate blood or plasma and some places even compensate you for your donation with cash (which can then be donated if you wish).


Donate your time

Finally, don’t forget you can always donate your time. A lot of organizations are always looking for extra hands to help out in the busy season of giving. Even if it’s only an hour of your time, anything helps!

Aren’t sure where help is needed? Check out these organizations below!


Click on link below for a full list of local non-profit organizations.




Just Another Day at the Office

On a hot sunny afternoon at The Community Foundation of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, one by one, students arrived at the office. These students came to convince a review committee to select them to receive the largest scholarship award ever offered, thanks to a most generous donor of the Foundation. Some students were shy, others confident. Each student had earned an Associate Degree or completed the transfer program at a community college, and plan to attend a Virginia public university this fall. They also had other things in common: a strong desire to succeed, academic success, plans to give back and live productive lives. 


We talked about life lessons learned from failure and what it meant to be successful. Each student had good reflections, like you must remember during any failure or challenge that “it’s just a bad day, not a bad life.”  Another student noted it was important to surround yourself with good people and not to let the need to impress your friends influence you to make a bad decision you’ll regret later. Yet another noted when she was in a challenging situation and thought about cheating to get a good grade on a test, she remembered a poster in elementary school that read, “Cheaters never prosper!” 


And what does success look like to these young people? We heard, “To get my bachelor’s degree because no one in my family ever completed high school” and “to do good to those around you, be kind, positive, and share a simple smile.” One felt success would be to “look back, be proud, have no regrets,” while another student thinks it important to “live a full life, making good of the time you have on earth.” 


Each student showed humility, making the decision to choose recipients more difficult than the committee ever anticipated. We knew the gravity of this decision; it would change the life of two students. Conversations continued for four hours. There were no wrong answers. 


After much thought and discussion, a decision was made. Two most fortunate students will be awarded the Late Ace Scholarship. Coming into the interviews, the students never knew the amount of the scholarship. The recipients will be contacted to learn that through the generosity of someone they do not know, their college debt will be taken care of. 


What an amazing gift, and well, just another great day at the office!



Letter to the Washington Post

Last week, the Washington Post published a misinformed article about donor-advised funds. The Council on Foundations, with support of community foundations, immediately responded by penning a letter to the editor. The full text of the letter is below.

We hope the Post will consider publishing this letter, but in the meantime we wish to share it with you.


To the Editor:

Tuesday’s article on donor-advised funds (DAFs) (“Wall Street is sitting on billions meant for American charities,” June 21) provides a laundry list of damaging and inaccurate assertions about DAFs, specifically those created by financial institutions. Community foundations, leading stewards of positive change at the local level, also sponsor DAFs which offer the benefit of being an efficient and less administratively burdensome option for many donors who want to establish philanthropic vehicles.

When donors create DAFs at community foundations, they ensure support for nonprofits and leverage the foundation’s programs, collective giving efforts, and civic leadership to further advance local causes. They are able to address immediate needs and, importantly, long-term efforts.

For more than 100 years, community foundations have partnered with philanthropists to support communities. This includes helping donors identify their giving goals and strategy. DAFs factor into these conversations because of their many benefits. For example, DAFs:

  • Provide flexibility. DAFs allow community foundations to quickly respond to local needs including emergency response efforts.
  • Democratize giving. DAFs require modest financial contributions, making them within the reach of most charitable givers.
  • Connect donors to purpose. DAFs empower individuals to support long-term solutions for tough community issues with the benefit of guidance from professionals.

The real threat to charitable giving is not DAFs but one-sided, mischaracterizations of an important philanthropic vehicle that encourages civic engagement.

Rather than narrowing the breadth of tools available, we should focus on expanding and protecting giving options that help citizens to advance the common good in their communities.

Vikki Spruill, Javier Soto, Randall Royster
Tony Mestres, Hazle Hamilton, Richard Ober
Steve Seleznow, Lorie A. Slutsky, Debbie Wilkerson, Revlan Hill

Ms. Spruill is president and chief executive officer of the Council on Foundations.

Mr. Soto is vice chair of the Council on Foundations’ board of directors and president and chief executive officer of The Miami Foundation.

Mr. Royster is a Council on Foundations’ board of directors member and current past president of the Community Foundations National Standards Board and president and chief executive officer of the Albuquerque Community Foundation.

Mr. Mestres is a Council on Foundations’ board of directors member and president and chief executive officer of The Seattle Foundation.

Ms. Hamilton is president of the Community Foundations National Standards Board and executive vice president of the Community Foundation of Central Georgia.

Mr. Ober is president and chief executive officer of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.

Mr. Seleznow is president and chief executive officer of the Arizona Community Foundation.

Ms. Slutsky is president of the New York Community Trust.

Ms. Wilkerson is president and chief executive officer of the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation.

Ms. Revlan Hill is president and chief executive officer of the Community Foundation of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County

Bridging the Generational Gap

What does it mean to give back? For most people, I’d say it depends on who you’re asking the question at and when they were born. Throughout the generations who give back to their community and their favorite nonprofits, each generation thinks and gives differently. According to Hartnett and Matan “Nearly 60% of Gen Ys and 50% of Gen Xers want to see directly the impact of their donations, while just 37% of Baby Boomers say seeing a direct impact matters to them.”

However the question remains: how do we bridge the generational gap of giving between Baby Boomers and Generation Y (or Millennials) and really connect with younger donors?

It is also reported by Harnett and Matan that “…45% of Boomers say their financial contribution is key, only 36% of Gex Xers and 25% of Gen Ys think that what matters most is a difference made of money. Instead, they believe that volunteering and spreading the word is more impactful”.  While Baby Boomers and Generation Xers will not be around forever, it has become an important task in creating relationships between nonprofits and Millennials in continuing to find new ways to engage with younger donors.

While Generation Y only represents a small percentage of giving, they do represent the largest percentage of media usage. Numerous social media platforms exist on the internet bringing in users all over the world to share their thoughts, pictures, and connect with old friends. Software company, Blackbaud (see full interactive report here) says, 90% of social media usage is on Facebook and a whopping 97% is surprisingly on YouTube, with LinkedIn and Twitter in last. Generation X does not fall far behind Millennials in the category of social media as well. They also spend most of their time on YouTube at 92%, Facebook at 77%, and LinkedIn at 57% according to Blackbaud.  All in all, Generation Y and X are more likely to give back through social media and learn more about new nonprofits through shared posts and videos, while Baby Boomers give back more through direct mail and organization’s websites.

What does this mean for philanthropy and nonprofits? Essentially, this means social media will become and already plays a huge role in giving back. Whether you are a small nonprofit just getting started or a large established nonprofit, social media is key in educating and connecting with new young donors as we begin to see more Millennials following in the footsteps of their charitable parents and grandparents.

Don’t forget to visit our social media pages  for the latest information on nonprofit news and to see what we’ve been up to!

FB Pinterest IG twitter

You can also give directly to any of our funds listed on our website by clicking on “Donate Now.”

2016 Community Endowment Grant Recipient Announced

The Northeast Neighborhood Association (NENA) was selected as the 2016 grant recipient of the Community Endowment Fund, a permanent endowed fund at The Community Foundation of Harrisonburg & Rockingham County (TCFHR). Over $5,000 will be directed for the NENA Community Garden project.  According to the association’s grant application, the organization seeks start-up costs to create a “shared space where members of the community can sign up to grow vegetables, fruits and flowers.”

Karen Thomas, NENA’s President, explains the start-up costs for the Community Garden project include, “the purchase of tools, seeds, starter plants, and other garden necessities as well as stipends for local gardening experts to give workshops.” This project will specifically serve 25 households and the larger Northeast neighborhood community in general.

As stated on their website, the Northeast Neighborhood Association’s mission is to ensure that our neighborhood is safe, attractive and a strong community. Working hard to reduce crime and improve the appearance of the neighborhood. Partnering with city government, the community and non-governmental agencies to revitalize the Northeast Neighborhood and to address the needs of its residents.

48 community nonprofit organizations applied for the Community Endowment Fund grant this year, all with worthwhile projects designed to benefit our community. The grant is awarded on an annual basis to a local nonprofit organization through the Community Needs grant application process. Grant applications are available twice a year (spring and fall) and a nonprofit organization may apply once per calendar year.

The Community Endowment Fund is a pool of unrestricted endowed funds established for the greatest flexibility and benefit for the local community. This permanent fund helps finance projects of greatest benefit to Harrisonburg and Rockingham County as determined by community leaders. The Community Endowment accepts gifts of any size and is the perfect vehicle for individuals or businesses who simply want to give back to this community without designating a specific need.

The Community Endowment Fund was established in 2008 and its creation was guided by the TCFHR’s underlying vision to structure a permanent fund that would harness the power of many individuals giving together for the benefit of our community. Gifts to this fund receive a 25% match by a local donor. All gifts to the Community Endowment Fund will continue to be matched 25 cents per dollar until the fund balance reaches $100,000.

To learn more about the Community Endowment Fund, or to contribute to this permanent fund, contact the staff at The Community Foundation at 540-432-3863, or visit

The Community Foundation announces the Valley Arts & Culture Fund Grant

The Virginia Quilt Museum was selected as the 2016 grant recipient of the Valley Arts & Culture Fund, a permanent endowed fund at The Community Foundation of Harrisonburg & Rockingham County. Funds will be directed for the museum’s exhibit construction project. The museum plans to construct two permanent exhibits – an Orientation/Welcome Exhibit and a Warren-Sipe House History Exhibit.

Executive Director, Kimberly McCray, explains the need for an Orientation/Welcome Exhibit as essential, “because about half of our Museum’s visitors are not quilters and about 95% of our visitors go through the Museum and its exhibits by way of a self-guided tour. Without a tour guide to provide an introduction of the basics of quilt history, techniques, and culture, patrons cannot possibly understand or appreciate our exhibits fully without the context of an introductory exhibit.”

McCray describes the importance of a Warren-Sipe House History exhibit, “as one of the few remaining antebellum structures in downtown Harrisonburg, our building’s rich history and architecture deserves telling…… we hope to encourage an interest in the building that will lead to monetary contributions for maintaining and preserving the structure, which is a constant financial challenge for the Museum.”

Six community nonprofit organizations applied for the Valley Arts & Culture grant this year, each with projects worthy of consideration. The grant is awarded on an annual basis to a local nonprofit organization through the Community Needs grant application process.

The Valley Arts and Culture Fund provides program, project and seed funds to small and medium sized organizations promoting performing and visual arts and interpreting the culture and traditions of and in the Shenandoah Valley.

The Valley Arts and Culture Fund was established in 2000 by Larry and Pat Hoover.  Anyone may contribute to this permanent fund to provide on-going support for arts and culture in our community.  To learn more contact Ann Siciliano at The Community Foundation of Harrisonburg & Rockingham County at 540-432-3863, or visit

New Overtime Rules and Nonprofit Organizations

Yesterday, the Department of Labor and the President announced the publication of a new overtime rules with the stated goal of updating outdated regulations in an effort to ensure that employees, particularly those in the middle class, are sufficiently compensated for hours worked.  See the President’s fact sheet or information page from the Department of Labor (  These new rules changed the minimum salary for employees to be considered exempt from overtime rules at organizations covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). How will this affect nonprofit organizations?  The US Department of Labor’s May 18, 2016 publication, entitled “Guidance for Non-Profit Organization on Paying Overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act” gives a fairly easy to read summary of the changes, how it may affect nonprofit organizations, and options to comply for those organizations affected.  The following is a quick summary based on my reading of the publication but be sure to read the attached document to ensure compliance with these rules for your own nonprofit organization.

Beginning December 1, 2016, the minimum salary for exempt employees will be tied to the 40th percentile of earnings of full-time salaried workers in the lowest-wage Census region or $913 per week.  In addition, salary and compensation levels will be adjusted every three years to maintain this minimum level.  Currently, the minimum weekly pay for exempt workers is $455.  There are several options for complying with the new rules.  Different options and examples, specifically targeted to nonprofits, are given in the DOL’s publication.   Importantly though, currently exempt employees making less than the new minimum salary do not have to be switched to hourly pay.

Nonprofits are not specifically exempt from these new rules.  Coverage under FLSA can be at the individual worker level or organizational level.  Generally, for an organization to be covered under FLSA, the organization must have annual revenue of at least $500,000 from ordinary commercial activities.  Donations, contributions, membership fees, and other typical nonprofit specific income would not normally be considered commercial activity.  Individual employee coverage largely depends on the workers involvement in interstate commerce.

Refer to the Department of Labor website and the following publications from the Department of Labor for more information:

Overtime Final Rule and the Non-Profit Sector

Guidance for Non-Profit Organizations on Paying Overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act

Comparison Chart

2015 Annual Report

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