On May 5, 2020, Jennifer and David Risher announced a challenge to the philanthropic community: commit to donating half of your donor advised fund (DAF) between now and September 2020, and nominate a charity of your choice to receive a matching grant from the #HalfMyDAF fund.
The Rishers called into action the more than $120 billion sitting in donor advised funds and community foundations, money that could immediately support critical causes when the COVID-19 pandemic was making fundraising challenging for worthy causes and nonprofits both large and small. Their goal was to mobilize charitable dollars – right now – when and where it's needed most.
Donors could donate to as many nonprofit organizations as they wished, nominating one for up to a $10,000 match. Based on a randomized drawing, a select number of nonprofits that had been nominated would receive a match on either July 15 or September 30.
After a successful launch and an incredible response from more than 140 donors who stepped up to be #HalfMyDAF Heroes, the first round of #HalfMyDAF made over $8.6 million in total donations to nonprofits. Four Superheroes then increased the matching gift pool from the original $1 million to $1.4 million, including Gateway Trustee Laura Spivy, and Greg Spivy.
The #HalfMyDAF effort led to three contributions of $10,000 to Gateway Public Schools, contributions that made a critical impact on our schools when distance learning increased the needs of our students and families. In an additional stroke of good fortune, Gateway was one of the lucky 140 nonprofits to receive a $10,000 matching grant from #HalfMyDAF in September, for a total of $40,000 for our school community.
We are incredibly grateful to the RIshers and the generosity of the donors who joined their call to action. In less than a year, these philanthropists moved nonprofits forward through economic and fundraising uncertainty, in some instances allowing organizations to stay in their communities that may have otherwise been lost. Thanks in part to these funds, Gateway was able to provide every student with a Chromebook for distance learning, hotspots for students without home internet, and home learning kits to maintain hands-on learning from home.
The first version of #HalfMyDAF ended in September 2020, but David and Jennifer are planning to continue into 2021.
For more information about #HalfMyDAF and to follow what’s next, visit www.halfmydaf.com.
Jennifer Risher is the author of We Need to Talk: A Memoir About Wealth that tells our story about getting lucky and explores the hidden impact of wealth on identity, relationships and family. She believes that staying silent around topics like philanthropy creates problems for both those who have money and for our country as a whole. Money shouldn’t be a taboo subject; silence perpetuates the status quo and keeps us from learning from each other. Jennifer hopes her book becomes a catalyst for conversation.
David Risher is a former Amazon executive who co-founded and leads Worldreader, a nonprofit based in San Francisco with a goal of getting 1 billion people reading and improving their lives. After leading the organization full-time for ten years , David continues to see every day the enormous impact a nonprofit can have, but feels first-hand the immense frustration of having such limited resources to address very large problems.