Lancaster County Community Foundation Requires Nondiscrimination Policies, Some Christian Groups Pull Out
An alternative called FaithfulGive is an option for Christian ministries
Veritas Academy carefully considered its decision to pull out of ExtraGive, a marathon giving event hosted by the Lancaster County Community Foundation (LCCF). In 2021, the Christian school had garnered $210,000 in revenue during the one-day fundraiser.
Veritas Headmaster Ty Fischer and the school’s board chose not to participate in the 2022 ExtraGive event over concerns about LCCF’s nondiscrimination and anti-hate policies.
They weren’t alone. The number of groups participating in ExtraGive dropped from 516 to 452. In 2021, the event raised $16 million, but only $10 million in 2022.
LCCF in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania—a hub of evangelical Christian ministries—announced that nonprofit groups must post their nondiscrimination policies in order to participate in the ExtraGive event. It also published an anti-hate policy containing a broad definition of hateful activities, including “misinformation targeting an individual or group based on their…sexual orientation.”
LCCF states on its website that nondiscrimination policies were required for “transparency for our community” and that it would not require any specific verbiage nor do any legal analysis of the posted policies.
Veritas Academy has adopted non-discrimination policies, but the school had deeper concerns about LCCF’s new requirement. In a letter to parents explaining the school’s decision to withdraw from ExtraGive, Veritas headmaster Ty Fischer said LCCF sent out example policies “indicat[ing] that Christian views of sexuality and morality would be interpreted by LCCF as hateful and wrong.”
He added that Veritas learned a group had been removed from participating in ExtraGive because its “commitment to a biblical sexual ethic put them at odds with LCCF’s policies.”
LCCF CEO Sam Bressi responded to criticism of its new requirement in a statement defending the nondiscrimination and anti-hate policies. He said “very few organizations will be impacted” but admitted one group was disqualified from participating.
It became widely known in the Lancaster area that the group removed from ExtraGive was Christian ministry Harvest USA, whose mission is to help those affected by sexual struggles, including same-sex attraction.
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Aware of these actions, Fischer said the school could not participate in an event that “manipulated [groups] toward changing their policies to receive the financial blessing of ExtraGive.”
Not all faith-based organizations in the Lancaster area withdrew from ExtraGive. On its website, Water Street Mission explained why it remained a part of the fundraiser: “The ExtraGive is a community-wide event that enables Water Street Mission to share our heart, our purpose and our impact with thousands of our neighbors who may not be familiar with our work.” The requirement to post its non-discrimination policy did not require any policy changes.
Alternative to ExtraGive
There is an alternative for Lancaster-area Christian ministries that still wish to participate in a community fundraising event—FaithfulGive.
“Last year, due to cultural changes, many Lancaster nonprofits experienced a need for secure, online, momentum-building, community giving that was aligned with their Christian missions. We seek to meet that need for Kingdom causes with excellence,” the Faithful Give fact sheet states.
Faithful Give works to “connect generous givers with kingdom causes.” Harvest USA and several other Christian ministries have signed on to join FaithfulGive.
Its president David Kieffer believes FaithfulGive is a good match for the biblical heritage of Lancaster County. “FaithfulGive was formed to guard and celebrate that heritage as well as nurture its flourishing for the next generation,” he told MinistryWatch in an email.
The date for FaithfulGive has not yet been set, but Kieffer expects it to be in the fall of 2023. He said the event is meant to expand the community’s understanding of generosity, so it will not just involve fundraising but also a prayer breakfast and service opportunities.
The first known community foundation in the world was the Cleveland Foundation, founded in 1914 by Frederick Goff. Today, there are approximately 833 community foundations funding philanthropy within the United States. According to a census by the Community Foundation Research and Training Institute, they held a combined $143.9 billion in assets in 2021.
Community foundations can be organized based on supporting philanthropic causes in a geographic region, as LCCF does, or they can be organized to support a particular class of causes, like educational or environmental issues.
They often distribute funds through a competitive grant process determined by the applicant’s purpose, need, and impact.
Many community foundations also seek to provide community leadership, hosting forums or convening stakeholders to address issues.
LCCF is likely not the only community foundation engaging in what some call “values-aligned” philanthropy. Like the majority of community foundations in the country, it is accredited by the Council on Foundations as part of its Community Foundations National Standards program.
In 2020, the Council on Foundations launched its “Values-Aligned Philanthropy project” and published a white paper providing recommendations for “resisting hate and extremism.” Some examples of “hateful viewpoints” are opposing abortion and homosexuality.
It hosted an online training seminar to discuss the white paper and offered suggestions and next steps for foundations to implement anti-hate policies.
Other anti-hate foundation trainings are easy to find, like the Horizon Forum’s anti-hate policy training and toolkit. It is funded by the Proteus Fund that “partners with foundations, individual donors, activists, and other allies to work strategically towards racial, gender, queer, and disability justice and an inclusive, fully-representative democracy.”
Main photo: LCCF photo from the 2022 ExtraGive promo / Facebook