By Myles Grant (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

October 10, 2017; WMUR New Hampshire (Associated Press)

This story highlights the value of community foundations over donor-advised funds to some donors. In this case, the donor had chosen a niche where they wanted to direct funding in a strategic way, but they are evidently leaving the grantmaking implementation to the foundation.

In New Hampshire, where Dr. Tom Andrew, the Chief Medical Examiner, is leaving office after watching the number of deaths from drug overdoses shoot up from 30–40 per year to 500 per year within a twenty-year period, at least one donor is getting mobilized around the issue of addicted mothers. This niche is well chosen, because programs for addicted women have always been thin on the ground.

The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation announced that it has received an anonymous donation of $3 million that will be spent over the next three years on programs for addicted women and their children. The sum, in light of the size of the problem, may seem like a drop in the bucket, but even a drop is welcome to the nonprofits doing this important work.

Tim Rourke, who oversees the foundation’s grants in this realm, said the donor’s money is aimed at ensuring pregnant women, new moms, and babies get the support they need, identifying promising practices that could be replicated elsewhere and educating women who are pregnant about how to keep themselves and their babies safe.

Nearly 470 New Hampshire babies were said to be born exposed to drugs last year, a figure that had increased by more than a hundred from the previous year. “Among the most tragic things in the opioid epidemic is babies born addicted to opioids, which can create lifelong problems,” N.H. Charitable Foundation CEO Richard Ober said.

Timing is everything. Dr. Andrew says he tried to warn the now drug-besieged state about the trend in 2004, but he believes that he was ignored because lawmakers thought the population it affected was disposable.

In this case, the donor and community foundation seem well matched, and the relationship highlights the potential value of community foundations as a vehicle for strategically deploying money with skilled advice and counsel.—Ruth McCambridge