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Discovering and funding your passions are at the root of all meaningful giving

As this year begins, you might be thinking about making a resolution to give back more in your community. Maybe it’s giving more of your time and talent, such as volunteering at a local food bank, tutoring adults or working in your child’s classroom. Maybe it’s contributing more of your resources by donating money to a local nonprofit or even setting up your own fund to support worthy causes.

When most of us look to “do more” in our community, we often wonder what causes can best be served and supported? At the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County (CFAAC), we encourage people to think about their passions and interests as a way to start considering which charities to support. Think about where you spend your time and what is important to you. Think about your values and your hobbies. Are there causes you are passionate about? Are you seeing a pattern in your giving? This is a great exercise and you can use it to discover exactly where and how you want to donate.

For instance, you might care deeply about the environment and volunteer to help pick up litter on hiking trails or participate in tree-planting projects. You could take that one step further by finding and donating to a nonprofit that supports the environment. You could also explore opening your own fund or collaborating with others to champion a cause and pool resources. There is something to the old adage, “there is strength in numbers.”

When you are working together with like-minded donors, you can pinpoint community challenges and make meaningful changes. As an example, CFAAC’s Environment Anne Arundel Fund was established because three people cared enough to collaborate and open the fund. Since 2014, this field of interest fund has contributed $76,400 to Anne Arundel County nonprofit organizations working to protect and improve the environment in the county and in the Chesapeake Bay.

And, while some of CFAAC’s Field of Interest Fund grants have covered a broad spectrum of needs such as grants through CFAAC’s Community Crisis Response Fund, which awarded $1,709,692 in grants to support programs that provide food security, support for basic human needs and assistance with housing insecurity and homelessness. Other seemingly smaller funds have yielded big results because they combined resources into actions.

CFAAC’s Women and Girls Fund is a prime example of a small but transformative fund, that supports nonprofits helping women and girls pursue positive, productive lives by trying to remove barriers, increase economic security, enhance well-being and safety and empower them to make positive life decisions for themselves and their families. Many local nonprofits have benefitted from the Women and Girls Fund, including grants distributed to women’s recovery homes, healthcare and mental wellness support programs and academic mentorship programs that empower women and girls who face major obstacles because of poverty, lack of resources, disability and/or domestic violence.

Other funds at CFAAC that focus on specific causes supported by interested community members include the Arts and Culture Fund, created to support grant-making that provides access and opportunities for low wealth individuals and families to experience and/or participate in performing, visual, fine, decorative and folk arts as well as literature and language; the Fund for Anne Arundel, a fund that awards grants to programs that address the needs of children and families; and Grants 4 Teachers, a fund that provides modest, but meaningful grants to teachers so they can pursue creative ideas that would otherwise be impossible because of school system funding constraints.

Discovering and funding your passions is at the root of all meaningful giving. If you want to focus on certain needs in your community or support a specific cause, opening a fund at CFAAC to address those needs and highlight them might inspire others to join you in supporting the cause. Getting started is simple.

CFAAC is always here to help answer your questions, inform you about local giving opportunities and partner with you to realize your philanthropic goals. Just give us a call at 410.280.1102 or email us at

Mary Spencer is president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County. The Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County is a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3), publicly supported philanthropic organization with the long-term goal of building permanent funds that provide support to local nonprofit organizations through grants and special projects.

This story was originally printed in the January 07, 2023 edition of the CAPITAL GAZETTE.


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