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Mortgage giants phase out charitable works

 Street Sense - USA 10 October 2019

Homeless organizations and other nonprofits, struggling to serve more needy people with less, were already grimly contemplating the last Fannie Mae Help the Homeless Walkathon, set for November 19. Then came more bad news. Freddie Mac, another troubled mortgage giant which has generously supported housing and homeless causes over the years, announced it would begin winding down its foundation grants starting next year. The final grants will be given in 2015. (612 Words) - By Randy Meza

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"Here were two of the largest funding sources for human services organizations in Washington DC who are either stopping or winding down their work,"  said Janice Kaplan, of the Community Foundation for the Capital Region. "Our community has come to depend upon both of them. It was very alarming. "

But then came a hopeful development: Give to the Max Day.

The online regional fundraiser, scheduled for November 9, seeks 10,000 people to support a  favorite charity. The goal is to garner more than $3 million in donations and grants in a single day.

When major funders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were both placed into conservatorship in 2008 as the result of the subprime mortgage crisis,  nonprofts began grappling with the challenges of finding new sources of funding, broadening  their donor bases and raising public awareness about their causes, whether helping homeless families or feeding the hungry or building more affordable housing..  Some say Give to the Max Day might be worth a try.

"We have to engage a wider audience of citizens," said Bill Hanbury, president and CEO for United Way of the National Capital Area, which, along with the Community Foundation of the Capital Region, has supported and helped organize the one day giving marathon. .

Organizers say they hope Give to the Max day will be an annual event.

"This is just not for this day," said Terri Freeman, president of The Community Foundation of the National Capital Region.

Event creator Razoo.com will provide the online platform for individuals and organizations to donate to their nonprofit of choice.  In two separate one-day fundraising events in Minneapolis, Razoo garnered $25 million. The two non-profits in the Washington-area that raise the most money or get the most individual donors will receive $25,000 awards.

Some nonprofit leaders say they are hoping online-giving may  provide new benefits.

"I think it will help increase our online presence to new donors and existing donors.  It will also increase donor awareness about our organization through social l media," said Kimberly Lyons-Briley, development manager for Martha's Table.

Yet others acknowledge they will miss the camraderie and public awareness generated by the  big annual Help the Homeless Walkathon. Since the event  got its start in Washington in 1988  it has raised $85 million for homeless service providers, according to Fannie Mae. .

"The Walkathon was a community-building opportunity that brought the beneficiary organizations that work for our cause together.  I'm sad to see it go," said Emily Fagerholm, communications associate for the Community Council for the Homeless and Friendship Place. Her organization is weighing a decision on participating in Give to the Max Day.

Meanwhile,  Fannie Mae has said that mini-walks for the homeless will continue after this year, and those smaller events have already emerged as an important source of funding.

In fact, last year, more than 100,000 people joined in 715 mini-walks across the Washington area, raising  $1.5 million. In comparison the big walk on the National Mall drew  just 14,000 people and raised less than $1 million.

A Freddie Mac spokeswoman stressed that until the remaining Freddie Mac Foundation assets are disbursed in 2015,  charities can still look forward to support.

"Until then," she said "we will be giving $25 million a year."

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