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Updated: December 21, 2021 How to

How to make a difference with your business giving

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Jeanette Andre

As the country continues to face economic and social crises, supporting community-based organizations has never been more important. Nonprofits and community leaders have been at the forefront of response but have been called to do even more, often with even less.

In my time as the president and CEO of Maine Philanthropy Center, I have witnessed a few ways that make our state special — a focus on community, a willingness to act together and an understanding that effective philanthropy is rooted in relationship building. This has allowed Maine philanthropy to mobilize quickly and respond to emergent needs, distributing over $15 million in support within the first five months of the pandemic.

The Maine Philanthropy Center is happy to share with you what we’ve learned about meeting this moment.

1. Give more, give now and give again

The year 2020 demanded exceptional response from nonprofits. Many shifted or expanded their work to meet new needs, but funding has not always followed. They go into this year with great uncertainty. Philanthropy has helped to balance this uncertainty by giving multiyear gifts. Reliable funding allows community organizations to plan for future needs while addressing the emerging giving needs throughout the year. Now is the rainy day we’ve been waiting for and that we must mobilize significant resources to ensure that no one is left behind.

2. Provide flexible, unrestricted support

General operating, unrestricted gifts can be transformative to organizations. They allow organizations to dedicate funds where they’re needed most, giving organizations the flexibility to meet current and emerging needs. They provide nonprofits with a more stable financial picture by providing much needed liquidity.

3. Rethink reporting and application requirements

Every minute nonprofits are asked to write applications or create customized reports takes away from their ability to deliver service. COVID-19 has forced philanthropy to rethink what information and data are the most critical. It has shown that we can do away with the parts of the process that may create unnecessary burdens, freeing up folks to channel their energies where it’s needed most — meeting community needs.

4. Seek out organizations in affected communities

You’ve heard the phrase “buy local,” but maybe haven’t considered how it could apply to your own giving. In the Giving Guide and in your communities, there are local organizations doing critical, innovative work. Seek out organizations that are led by those who are most affected by the work. It is no secret that Maine’s communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Organizations that are led by people of color are uniquely positioned to respond quickly to address the racial disparities exacerbated by COVID-19 because they possess the skills, experience and networks to steward this work, they nurture the most critical resource of all — trust.

5. Finally, go beyond giving

Nonprofits, and the communities they serve, need more than financial support. This next year will continue to challenge traditional business models and threaten previously reliable fundraising strategies. In addition to financial grants, philanthropy is considering other ways to ensure nonprofits get the support they need. We’ve heard the need for advocacy, network building, capacity building and technical assistance, and investments in collaborative infrastructure where it is lacking.

We invite you to join the Maine Philanthropy Center and the philanthropic community as we continue to explore how to create a world where all Mainers can thrive.

Jeanette Andre, president and CEO of the Maine Philanthropy Center, can be reached at

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