Community Foundation fundholders gave record $87.5M in 2020

The Community Foundation of New Jersey thanked its 1,141 fundholders for making 8,300 philanthropic gifts to worthy causes and communities in 2020 totaling $87.5 million — a new record for giving.

Community Foundation President Hans Dekker said many benefited from the generosity.

“We are lucky to live in such a charitable and generous state,” he said. “Our community stepped up at a time when many of our neighbors were struggling, and we are most grateful for their support.

The total dollar amount was substantially higher than previous years, as the Community Foundation said it had annual grantmaking of $57.8 million in 2019 and $66.6 million in 2018.

CFNJ currently stewards over $650 million in charitable assets, making grants to nonprofit organizations in line with the advice of active fundholders or the philanthropic goals of those who leave bequests. Sixty-two new funds were established in 2020, following 94 new funds in 2019 and 56 new funds in 2018.

The COVID-19 pandemic was a significant driver of the year’s philanthropy, particularly after New Jersey first lady Tammy Murphy and other civic leaders came to CFNJ to create and host the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund. The NJPRF raised more than $60 million from thousands of donors, including as part of the popular “Jersey 4 Jersey” broadcast featuring Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi and many other New Jersey celebrities.

The Community Foundation has distributed more than $39.5 million from the fund to more than 460 worthy nonprofit organizations providing critical support services throughout the pandemic.

Highlights of the year’s giving include:

  • 725,000 meals delivered by 24 local restaurants to Newark’s food-insecure families, thanks to the Newark Working Kitchens Fund created by Audible;
  • $4.5 million to help women and minority-owned small businesses, thanks to the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund;
  • $250,000 in matching grants to 875 teacher projects across 210 underprivileged schools serving 61,866 students, thanks to the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund;
  • More than $100,000 to support education and outreach for a Complete Count in New Jersey for the 2020 U.S. Census;
  • Nearly $400,000 out into the community to underwrite immigrants’ rights nonprofits working to secure legal status for undocumented youth, families and workers, thanks to a Funder Collaborative at CFNJ;
  • Creation of a new Financial Empowerment Center, which will help Paterson residents navigate complicated personal finance choices and avoid financial scams, thanks to a partnership with Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh;
  • $2.3 million to Volunteer Lawyers for Justice and the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey to connect tenants with much-needed housing counseling, education and individualized legal help, thanks to the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund;
  • $550,000 to purchase and distribute 3.25 million diapers and 502,000 feminine products through the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, Fulfill and the Food Bank of South Jersey, thanks to the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund;
  • $1.2 million in scholarships to help 298 students achieve their dreams of a college or vocational education, thanks to more than 100 individual scholarship funds at the Community Foundation.

Charity Navigator, the nation’s largest and most-utilized evaluator of charities, has previously named the Community Foundation of New Jersey one of the Top 10 community foundations in the United States and one of the Top 10 charities in New Jersey, owing to its high scores on financial accountability and transparency metrics.