Memphis cements generous reputation during pandemic

Memphis already had a reputation for being one of the nation’s most generous cities.

But during the pandemic, giving per capita soared, moving Memphis from No. 16 to No. 8 on the annual Columbus Survey of giving through local community foundations.

All told, the 1.1 million people in the greater Memphis area gave the equivalent of $418.42 apiece to the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, up from $156.83 in 2019.

And compared to cities with a population of more than 1 million people, Memphis ranked No. 2 on the list of the 67 largest U.S. cities.

“We’ve definitely had a lot going on here,” said Bob Fockler, Community Foundation president. “We managed, for the first time, a communitywide fund for COVID, which raised $14.5 million dollars from all kinds of donors, most of them individuals.”

When a portion of Monogram Foods was sold, a number of local shareholders, at Monogram’s request, gave a portion of their windfall to Monogram’s fund at the community foundation.

“Because people learned about what we do and how we do it, we also opened nine individual family funds as part of that process,” said Sutton Mora, Community Foundation executive vice president and chief operating officer. “And none of that was pandemic-related.”

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