In a county where half of the population has moved in in the past 15 years and thousands commute out of the area every day, it’s easy to miss those in need. But each year, about 16 percent of Loudoun residents receive help from local charities.
The nonprofit community this month is rolling out a major, two-year awareness campaign to highlight the stories of individuals and families who have turned to charitable organizations for a helping hand. Led by the Community Foundation of Loudoun and Fauquier Counties, the Faces of Loudoun initiative is meant to inspire people to give charitably, volunteer locally, and learn more about local needs and solutions.
Faces of Loudoun series – Over the next several months, Loudoun Now will run monthly articles highlighting men, women and children who have found a helping hand when they needed it most and the Loudoun County charities who provided it.
As part of the Faces of Loudoun launch, Community Foundation Executive Director Amy Owen highlighted a staggering statistic that she hopes to see changed. Loudoun residents bring in, on average, one of the highest household incomes in the nation. Yet, their giving to charitable organizations falls short.
Loudouners’ donate 1.98 percent of their discretionary income, while the average U.S. household gives 3 percent, according to a study published by the Chronicle of Philanthropy. That study shows that Loudoun is also out-paced by its neighboring jurisdictions: Fairfax County households donate 2.4 percent of their discretionary income, Fauquier County donates 3.12 percent, and Montgomery County households donate 3.8 percent.
It’s not that Loudoun residents are not generous, they just are not seeing the need, Owen said.
“The more homogenous your own community or neighborhood is, the less likely you’ll give,” she said. “If you live in a beautiful neighborhood, jump on Rt. 7 and head to work every day, you’re not seeing the people in need. You don’t even see trailer parks. They’re here, but you don’t see them.”
The Faces of Loudoun campaign will put that need in full view.
Throughout this year and 2018, the Community Foundation will tell the stories of men, women and families who have received a helping hand from Loudoun nonprofit organizations. Typically, charities are very careful about not disclosing the names or faces of their clients. But when the Community Foundation asked for those willing to share their stories, they saw a huge response. Stories and photos of about a dozen Loudoun residents are posted on the EndtheNeed.org website and Owen expects as many as 40 by the end of the campaign.
“It’s been well documented that American citizens who don’t regularly come into immediate contact with need give less. That describes Loudoun County to a ‘T.’ Loudoun needs aren’t in your face,” Owen said. “But they do exist, and the Community Foundation’s strategy is to simply shine a spotlight on a few of the individuals who courageously agreed to tell their stories publicly.”
If Loudoun residents can increase their giving just enough to catch up with neighboring counties, collectively they would generate an additional $70 million.
“Think of what that could do here at home. We can end the need,” Owen said.
Learn more about the campaign and donate at EndtheNeed.org. Donations will go to human services organizations based in Loudoun County.