We are fortunate at the DC Bar Foundation to have loyal donors and volunteers who make our mission possible through their generosity. This month we spoke with Nathalie Gilfoyle, long-time Foundation volunteer, leadership member, and original member of the 77 Society.
Ms. Gilfoyle is an active member of several of the Foundation’s leadership and volunteer groups. She currently serves as Vice President of our Board of Directors, and as a Volunteer Solicitor for our annual Call to Action campaign. She is a member of the Pillars of Justice giving tier within the 77 Society. Ms. Gilfoyle shares what supporting the Foundation means to her, below:
Why do you give to the DC Bar Foundation?
I know that DCBF has its finger on the pulse of the most current legal needs of DC residents with low incomes, and the legal services organizations serving those needs, in a way that I do not. Giving to DCBF is an efficient way to provide financial assistance to residents living in poverty, through an intermediary whose entire mission is focused on making the best use of those dollars across legal aid providers.
How has being involved with the Foundation impacted you?
I was aware that there is great need for legal services for many residents of the District, but the depth and breadth of that need and the many areas of legal assistance involved has been a revelation to me. From housing to consumer protection, from child custody to education rights and more, the needs are great, and the available resources to address them are disproportionately small. It has become a personal challenge to find ways to address this gap, both through doing my part to make financial donations, and to contribute as best I can to envisioning innovative ideas for the funding and provision of legal aid services in the future.
What makes the Foundation different from legal aid organizations that you may give to?
I do give directly to several legal aid organizations, but DCBF is an essential part of my charitable giving strategy, because it has superior knowledge about the areas of legal need and those providers who can best help. Through its funding, DCBF can encourage innovation and efficiency in the provision of needed legal aid from a uniquely informed perspective.
What about the Foundation do you appreciate or support the most?
The staff of DCBF are skilled and deeply knowledgeable professionals about the communities DCBF serves. Their wisdom consistently informs the DCBF Board to allow it to make the best funding decisions and strategic investments to carry out the Foundation’s mission.
You recently made a gift to the Foundation to support DC's COVID-19 recovery efforts. Why do you feel giving to the Foundation is so important during this time?
Despite welcome increased funding by the District and private donors, the Foundation was already aware of widening gaps between needs for legal representation and the resources to provide them. COVID-19 has added dramatically to the population of those who will need legal aid services as a result of lay-offs and has disproportionally affected those essential workers who continue to work in challenging situations and are also lowly compensated. The vulnerable community that can least afford to bear the burden of the combination of both a health and an economic crisis will have to share already thin resources to protect housing, jobs, access to health care and the like. In addition, legal services providers, who are conforming to shelter-in-place mandates' need funding for technology they don’t have, such as laptops and wireless capability, to continue their work.
At a time when so many needs are amplified, giving to a central informed and experienced organization like DCBF that can quickly address emerging needs is an easy way to make a donation of any size as effective as possible. These needs are immediate and require generous giving by donors at all levels now.