This article appeared in Palm Beach Post Notables on February 14, 2022.
For Danita DeHaney Nias, the source of her passion for philanthropic fundraising is simple: “I’ve seen firsthand the difference it can make in transforming lives.” That was the case for the past three decades when she did it at the university level – creating educational opportunities via charitable fundraising at institutions such as the University of Maryland, University of Florida, and Florida Atlantic University. And it’s been the case for the past 11 months – ever since she joined Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties in March 2021 as the esteemed organization’s president and CEO.
And 2022 will be an extra special year for the Community Foundation because it is the nonprofit’s 50th anniversary. “We have so many needs to address for the underserved in our community,” says Nias. “Among our most pressing ones are creating affordable housing, dealing with food insecurity, funding educational scholarships, and helping kids with the mental health challenges that the pandemic has created.” While Nias is focused on meeting these, and many other, community-wide needs, she also wants the philanthropic community to understand what differentiates the Community Foundation and how its positioning helps ensure their donations make an impact.
“We are uniquely positioned to see the needs and identify the opportunities to solve for them,” she explains. “In the 50 years of leading this work, we’ve partnered with nearly 3,400 nonprofit organizations — researching, vetting, and analyzing their effectiveness all along the way. We know where to go to address an issue and maximize the impact of our donors’ dollars. We also take care of all the administration associated with charitable giving and grantmaking.
This concierge approach helps our donors focus on what matters most: making a difference.” Nias is constantly monitoring where Community Foundation’s dollars can best be allocated. “The needs of our area’s neighbors are in constant flux, but there are chronic issues like mental and physical health, hunger, and access to basic resources that impede our area’s economic progress,” she says. “These challenges exist everywhere and hit especially hard in underserved and under-resourced areas like the Glades or Riviera Beach.”
During 2022, the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties will both be celebrating its 50-year history and building its vision for the future. “We stand on the shoulders of our two founding philanthropists, Michael and Winsome McIntosh, two longtime Palm Beach residents,” explains Nias. “Their $50,000 seed gift enabled countless people and programs to thrive. Their vision was to create a financial pillar of support in perpetuity to meet the ever-changing needs of residents. Today, we stay faithful to that vision, and thanks to nearly 9,000 local philanthropists, we’ve been able to scale our grantmaking so that our county’s residents don’t just strive — they thrive.”
As for what she envisions the next half-century bringing, Nias believes the organization can make an even bigger impact than it already has. “At our best, we are conveners and collaborators, able to bring all the stakeholders to the table — civic, government, business, health, education, philanthropists, and charitable organizations,” she says. “We are creating our next strategic plan, which will be aimed at growing our impact and creating meaningful change for all our neighbors.”