05.08.18

Donor-Advised Fund Spotlight: Kim and Ethan Decker

In economics, the Gini coefficient is the most commonly used measurement of inequality. And for Kim and Ethan Decker, their Gini Coefficient Fund – a Donor-Advised Fund at Community Foundation Boulder County – is an opportunity to lift up their philanthropic passion to address inequalities on a local level. 

 
“I like to dig in roots wherever I live,” says Kim. “We moved here in 2002, and we began to notice the needs of our community, including racial and economic disparities in Boulder County. At the same time, over the years, we were looking at our own privilege and examining that closer.” 
 
Adds Ethan, “We decided to act locally, and opened the Gini Coefficient Fund with $25K as a means to give back to people who aren’t as privileged as we are, and to address social justice issues.” 
 
To help inform their giving, the couple met with foundation staff, and attended a few donor salons at the Community Foundation. Additionally, Kim got involved with the Early Childhood Council of Boulder County as a parent representative, and learned about the achievement gap. “It’s so unfair that, in this affluent community, kids are being left behind,” she says. “The foundation’s work in this area piqued my interest in the Community Foundation – we’re super pleased with all of their programs and initiatives, acting locally through countywide nonprofits.”
 
Continues Kim, “We think of giving as our church. That is, the fund is our way to give 10% of what we earn – like tithing – through the Community Foundation.”
 
In his considerations of privilege and social justice, Ethan discovered a disturbing pattern, which the foundation also explores in TRENDS: “Wealthier people give less, which is absurd,” he says. “Whereas people closer to poverty give more and care more for each other.
 
“There are plenty of issues right here that need our help. Some people give worlds away, say in Africa or Guatemala … but we really want to make an impact here in Boulder County. 
 
“Because we’re not single-issue people, we really appreciate partnering with the Community Foundation. We know they do the work to understand the needs of our community, and to vet local nonprofits that address everything from early childhood concerns to affordable housing to homelessness. We like to support multiple causes and the foundation is good way to do that.” 
 
Additionally, Ethan hopes to inspire others to think and talk about giving … and to re-think their vacations, ski condos, wine collections, remodeling projects, and expensive bicycles.
 
“People love to brag about those things,” he says. “But what if we were just as proud and excited about what we give? It’s a matter of priorities, and deciding what kind of world we want to retire into.
 
“The way we see it, now is the time to invest in our community … before we retire.”
 
Related reading:
Do You Have “Advantage Blindness”? (April 10, Harvard Business Review)