I know that we are all ready to put 2020 behind us, but as I look back on the year, I am encouraged and inspired by the amazing ways our community came together to make a difference.
There is no doubt that 2020 was a year rife with divisions, but our Eastern Jackson County community showed unity through its outpouring of compassion and caring. When the stay-at-home orders were instated, we witnessed the selfless commitment of our frontline workers in healthcare, grocery stores and other businesses deemed essential. Our social service nonprofits sprang into action to ramp up their services to meet the increased need, reconfiguring the delivery of those services to keep their staff and volunteers safe. Teachers in our community rose to the challenge and quickly mastered virtual learning. Our school districts developed new systems to keep their food insecure students fed when they were not coming to school. Shelters like Hope House engineered a new housing model, using hotel rooms when they could not safely house battered women in their facilities. These are just a few examples of the outpouring of compassion and caring we saw in our community this past year.
Helping others is empowering and allows us to maintain and strengthen the connections that we care about. During these months of uncertainty and social distancing, charitable giving has offered a unique and enhanced connection to the community. So, it is no surprise that your Community Foundation reached a new record for giving in 2020, surpassing $5 million in grants to nonprofits.
The final chapter on the 2020 charitable giving story is still taking shape, but we approached the year end full of hope. In October, a study commissioned by the Nonprofit Alliance and RKD Group reported that while 77 percent of donors said they had already given as much or more in 2020 than they had all of 2019, 36 percent said they planned to give more in December 2020 than they did in December 2019, and 44 percent said they planned to give the same amount. This is truly encouraging news.
As we head into the new year, though we’re glad to have vaccines being deployed to do their work, we must continue to wear a mask, wash our hands and social distance to finally defeat COVID-19. And even though we are experiencing COVID fatigue, I know that by responding with compassion and caring our community will continue to recover.
Our community is blessed to be filled with kind, generous individuals and businesses. Indeed, Eastern Jackson County would be a very different community without this philanthropic support. As you reflect on the year, I hope that you find comfort and joy knowing that the year included thousands of stories of compassion and caring in our community. These stories will be a source of pride once we are able gain some perspective on our community’s response to the pandemic.
And while we may continue to be separated by distance for a while longer, 2020 proved that compassion and caring refuse to be canceled even by a pandemic. Stay safe, stay healthy and Happy New Year!