International Giving

Laura Bond

For many donors, giving abroad is a way to have a deep impact. Now, The Denver Foundation makes it easier to do make a world of difference.

Within The Denver Foundation’s community of fundholders, there are dozens of generous people who harbor deep affinities for land and people overseas, connections built through family ties and ancestry, work or study abroad, international travel, and human compassion. Though the impact of these gifts is felt most immediately at the local level, thousands of miles away, they reverberate through the creation of a more just and sustainable world. For many donors, that’s a satisfying notion.

Since 2015, Denver Foundation donors have given more than $2 million to dozens of nonprofit organizations that work on nearly every continent, with areas of concentration across Central and South America and Africa. Individuals and families respond generously in times of crisis abroad, including the devastating 2008 earthquake in Haiti, and the quake that leveled parts of Mexico City last September. They also support initiatives that create opportunities and, eventually, lead to systems change over the long term, such as economic and agricultural development, education and literacy, health, climate change, and women and girls’ issues, among many others.

International giving does present some unique challenges, however, such as how to choose where and on what to focus, and how to manage the logistics of transactions, regulations, and tax considerations.

This year, The Denver Foundation introduced specialized new services to help donor-advised fundholders navigate these questions and extend their grantmaking outside the United States.

“Some fundholders might prefer to make contributions directly to organizations countries where they have a personal connection and knowledge, rather than to US-based nonprofits that work abroad, for example,” says Kelly Purdy, Deputy Vice President of the Philanthropic Services Group. “We can help them manage the technical aspects of those gifts, which will allow them to focus on what really speaks to their interests and passions, and to creating impact and change.”

For many families, there’s nothing quite like travel to a new part of the world, and the adventures and challenges that come with it, to generate meaningful experiences and memories as well as a desire to stay connected. Such was the case for the Denver Foundation fundholders Richard and Nina Shuyler, whose lives were forever changed by a trip to East Africa with their daughter, Ashley, who was 11 at the time. The experience led to a deep love of Africa—and to the creation of a nonprofit organization that is a big part of the family’s life.


“On the first day of our trip into Tanzania from Nairobi, we stopped by the side of the road where a young boy was selling handmade toys and trinkets,” says Richard Shuyler. “Ashley couldn’t understand why he was doing that, instead of being in school, but soon learned that he was trying to earn a little money for his family. Ashley couldn’t reconcile the educational opportunities she had back in the US with what children had in Tanzania. She came back with a burning desire to help those she had seen and met along the way, who had so little resources in comparison to those she had, but who otherwise had such strength, joy, and determination.”

Years later in 2001, with help from her parents, Ashley established AfricAid to support girls’ education in Africa. Over the last 17 years, with Ashley at the helm, the organization has helped build classrooms, donated school supplies, and furnished computer labs, helped establish a teacher training program, and funded a school lunch program. It now focuses on leadership and life skills training for secondary school girls; this year, 4,000 young girls will be enrolled in these programs. Richard, Nina, and Ashley all serve on AfricAid’s board of directors and have helped raise more than $4 million to support the mission.

"Our shared work has given us the gift of binding us together as a family, with shared values, in a common cause that we all believe passionately in."

“We often talk together as a family about how AfricAid has made a difference in our lives,” says Richard. “The wonderful people in Tanzania have touched our hearts and given us so much more than we have shared with them. They have shown us the true meaning of courage and determination and have opened our eyes to new ways of understanding the world around us. They have become part of our extended family—and have welcomed us as part of their families as well. At the same time, our shared work has given us the gift of binding us together as a family, with shared values, in a common cause that we all believe passionately in. What an incredibly special gift to have been given.”

The Shuylers have some simple advice to anyone who is considering getting involved with international giving: Invest.

“Your investment goes so much further,” says Richard. “The returnsboth economic and personalare great, and the difference you make can be lasting and important, and may affect many generations to come.”

For more information on international grantmaking, please contact Kelly Purdy, Deputy Vice President, Philanthropic Services Group, on 303.300.1790, or via kpurdy@denverfoundation.org.

Contact us

Laura Bond; Senior Communications Officer | lbond@denverfoundation.org

Dele Johnson; Communications Associate | djohnson@denverfoundation.org

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