Springfield, MO

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Since 2016, Heather Zoromski has led the Darr Family Foundation’s efforts to serve at-risk children through grant funding to local nonprofits.
McKenzie Robinson | SBJ
Since 2016, Heather Zoromski has led the Darr Family Foundation’s efforts to serve at-risk children through grant funding to local nonprofits.

Philanthropy Outlook: Heather Zoromski

Executive Director, Darr Family Foundation

Posted online

2022 Projection: We will see philanthropic efforts focused on issues exacerbated by the pandemic, including workforce development, housing, child care, food security and learning loss for some of our students.

Nonprofit giving fundamentally changed during the pandemic as many large, in-person events were postponed, canceled or moved online. Do you think this shift will remain moving forward?
Some of my colleagues that really relied on one large signature event, they were really looking forward to having those in person again. On the flip side, I’ve talked to a lot of colleagues that mentioned that the pandemic really forced them to rethink how they raise money. They were pleasantly surprised that most of their donors and sponsors still continue to support them and sponsor the event or make that same level of contribution even without attending the event. That was really wonderful to see and really much needed as our nonprofits, a lot of them were hit really hard by the pandemic not only with donations down, but also the need rising.

Many industries were impacted by the pandemic – some had their worst years and others had their best. What’s the appetite for corporate giving?
While unfortunately some businesses have struggled, a lot of them have done really well and really kind of reinvented themselves and found new ways of doing business. We’re still going to see very steady corporate giving. Historically, businesses tend to give to causes that maybe they’ve had a personal relationship with or employees have had a personal relationship with and then also those that offer them a sponsorship/advertising opportunity. With efforts like the Community Foundation of the Ozarks’ transportation fund, the Let’s Get to Work initiative, there’s encouragement to come together as a community and pool funding to focus on some of these issues that impact us all, like workforce and trying to get people the transportation needed and the child care they need to be able to return to work. Possibly more than ever, we need to support those organizations to ensure that doors remain open and programs are available to individuals and families that have been hit the hardest. I feel confident that the temperature for giving is still going to be hot. We’ve also experienced large gains in investments that have also contributed to our ability to make those big, bold gifts.

How have the operations of family foundations shifted over the years, and what changes are on the horizon?
Every family foundation is structured a little bit differently as far as just how they’re governed, but they’re all required by the IRS to give 5% of their endowment every year. There’s an effort to change that mindset instead of giving the 5% minimum and instead what is the maximum I can give and still operate into perpetuity? A lot of family foundations have bumped that up to like 7%; some have bumped it up to 10%. Also, before the pandemic, there was the beginning of a nationwide shift to move toward what’s called trust-based philanthropy, which basically means that there would be more larger, unrestricted grants awarded. You would do the relationship building up front with the organization and basically give them a grant and let them use it how they best need it. And then also, we’re seeing as baby boomers age, there’s going be this massive generational transfer of wealth. This is going to in turn likely lead to growth in the size of existing family foundations, and also opportunity for families to either start their own foundation or invest some of that money in a donor-advised fund.


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