Donors Reaching Deep in a Unique Time of Need

Donors Maggie Schmidt and Ken Danila explain why they chose the Boston Foundation as the vehicle for much of their philanthropy.

June 15, 2020

Maggie Schmidt and Ken Danila standing behind their three kids, all standing for a family photo on green grass in front of trees.
Maggie Schmidt and Ken Danila with their three children (from left: Olive, Miles and Harry).
When Maggie Schmidt and Ken Danila wanted to do something in response to the COVID-19 crisis, their first impulse was to support the Boston Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund. And so they made the largest gift to date from their Donor Advised Fund (DAF) at the Boston Foundation. In total, Boston Foundation DAF holders have committed more than $12 million in grants to nonprofits serving those most affected by the crisis, including $1.5 million to the COVID-19 Response Fund, which has raised $9.5 million to date.

“We wanted to get money out quickly to the organizations that are helping those who are most—and disproportionately—affected by COVID-19,” says Schmidt, an artist and graphic designer. “Those are our black and brown families already living in poverty—and in dense urban settings, which further puts their health at risk.”

The Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund has made more than $6 million in unrestricted grants to more than 210 separate nonprofit organizations throughout Greater Boston. The grants are focused on helping the nonprofits that are serving those who are struggling the most in this crisis. More than 60 percent of the grants have gone to nonprofit organizations that are led by people of color and have budgets of less than $5 million. The Fund, which was launched in mid-March, announced its first grants on March 31.

Maggie Schmidt and Ken Danila standing behind their three kids, all standing for a family photo with face masks on, on green grass in front of trees.
As a family, Ken, Maggie & their children have taken advantage of  the Boston Foundation's site visits to nonprofits that are doing exemplary work in the community.
“We knew the Boston Foundation would choose the best organizations to fund and get that support out as soon as possible,” says Danila. “This virus has been affecting those who work in low-wage jobs that have been deemed essential, making it impossible for them to stay home and stay safe as we all have been encouraged to do. That was one of the issues we wanted to address with our donation.”

Danila is Director of Information Systems at Woodard & Curran, a clean water infrastructure and environmental firm. With 1,000 employees working remotely, Danila has a lot on his plate during this crisis.

Through their DAF, the couple has also supported Boston Foundation programs focused on grassroots efforts and helping families in need with food and fuel during the cold winter months. A number of their grants to nonprofit organizations focus on health, nutrition, food, education, housing and other basic needs. They have also attended Boston Foundation site visits arranged by Julie Smith-Bartoloni, the Foundation’s Senior Director of Philanthropy. The site visits are part of a family-friendly series that is designed to be appropriate for all ages and includes a hands-on component. “We have found it’s a great way to introduce our children to the important role nonprofit organizations play,” says Schmidt, “and a powerful introduction to philanthropy and volunteerism.”