Supporting the Navajo Nation Through Strategic Philanthropy

Supporting the Navajo Nation Through Strategic Philanthropy

Supporting the Navajo Nation Through Strategic Philanthropy

During the COVID-19 crisis that left no community untouched, the Navajo Nation faced an exceptionally daunting challenge. The pandemic's impact on this community was disproportionately severe, highlighting the urgent need for extra support. It was during this critical time that a family, motivated by a deep desire to make a meaningful difference, approached UI Charitable for guidance on directing their philanthropy to the Navajo Nation.

UI Charitable, known for its expertise in aligning philanthropic endeavors with impactful social outcomes, was poised to facilitate this effort.

Understanding the Client's Vision

The first step in this philanthropic journey was for the UI Charitable Team to understand the family goals. Through a series of meetings, the UI team worked to understand the full vision and the specific challenges the family sought to address within the Navajo Nation. This collaborative approach ensured that the research and subsequent recommendations would align with the family's aspirations for social impact.

Criteria for Impact

The UI team and the family established key criteria to focus their research. These criteria served as a blueprint for identifying organizations and initiatives that were not only on the frontlines of COVID-19 relief in the Navajo Nation, but also aligned with the family's broader social impact objectives.

The criteria included:

  • Direct Impact: Prioritizing organizations that had a direct and immediate influence on mitigating the effects of COVID-19 within the Navajo Nation.

  • Community Engagement: Identifying initiatives that were deeply embedded within the community, ensuring that solutions were culturally sensitive and community-driven.

  • Sustainability: Looking for efforts that not only addressed the immediate crisis, but also contributed to the long-term resilience and well-being of the Navajo Nation.

  • Transparency and Accountability: Focusing on organizations with a track record of transparency, where the allocation of funds and outcomes could be clearly monitored and measured.

The Path Forward

The research phase involved identifying organizations and initiatives that were making a tangible difference on the ground within the Navajo Nation. The due diligence involved consultations with experts, government officials, review of organizations’ effectiveness, and assessments of the potential impact of additional funding.

The deliverable was a curated list of recommendations for the family to consider. These recommendations were not merely a list of potential beneficiaries, but a strategic roadmap for their philanthropy that aligned the immediate needs of the Navajo Nation with the long-term impact goals of the family.

The UI team recommended the two organizations with the family. While both provided comparable short-term relief and services, one of the organizations was started by individuals from the Navajo Nation. The family decided to fund this organization, believing that local connections and understanding of the people affected were important. Within a few weeks, UI conducted the research, presented it to the family, and facilitated the $50,000 grant from the family’s UI DAF  to the nonprofit.


This case study not only highlights the importance of targeted philanthropy during crises but also serves as a model for other Donor-Advised Fund clients and philanthropic entities. It demonstrates how thoughtful, criteria-driven philanthropy can lead to meaningful change, especially when it is directed towards communities in dire need of support and resilience.

UI Charitable is committed to facilitating philanthropy that is not only generous, but also strategic, impactful, and aligned with the core values of its clients. The support extended to the Navajo Nation during the COVID-19 pandemic stands as a testament to what can be achieved when philanthropy is guided by expertise, empathy, and a deep commitment to making a difference.

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