Trust's Investment Profits Produce Outpouring Of Grants

PHOENIX (AP) — A Phoenix-based charitable trust's investments over the last 15 months did well and dozens of social service groups, arts organizations and other nonprofits still navigating fallout from the pandemic are now benefiting in a big way.

The Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust on Monday gave a record $123 million to 71 organizations in Maricopa County.

The trust in 2020 had awarded more than $37 million to community organizations, up from its average of about $22 million annually.

The $123 million of “Now is the Moment" grants ranging from $100,000 to $7.5 million are meant to enable the recipients to move from crisis and recovery to long-term sustainability, the Arizona Republic reported.

“It’s one thing to get through an immediate crisis,” said Sharon Harper, a member of Piper’s board of trustees. “These transformational grants are another level of giving. It gives (recipients) the runway to plan, to know that these organizations can be resilient and be there long term.”

Native American Connections, a group that provides housing and other counseling, got a $3 million grant, or about a fifth of its annual budget.

“I literally started to cry. It was just so overwhelming,” said Diana “Dede” Yazzie Devine, president and CEO of Native American Connections.

Phoenix Symphony CEO Suzanne Wilson was handed a $7.5 million check during a meeting that she thought was going to be a meet-and-greet session with Piper trustees.

“It’s beyond incredible,” said Wilson, who started her job in January 2020. “Seven weeks later, we were canceling all of our performances because of COVID. We had to make some heart-wrenching decisions.”

Trust officials said the grant selections were based off each organization’s mission and impact in the community, with grants ranging in size based on factors such as budget size and amount of people served.

The trust's amount of single-day giving is unprecedented in Arizona, said Jacky Alling, a senior fellow for philanthropy with Arizona State University’s Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation.

“What is even more remarkable is not just the dollar amount of the grants but also the unrestricted and unsolicited nature of the grants,” Alling said.

The Piper trust was established 21 years ago as a legacy of the late Virginia Galvin Piper. Piper’s first husband, Paul Galvin, was the founder of Motorola.