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Givers honored at Philanthropy Day event

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Even as overall giving to Washington area charities has declined, some local philanthropists have found ways to dig deeper to help their communities.

Nearly 500 people gathered to honor the region’s most generous and committed givers at the recent 10th annual National Capital Philanthropy Day breakfast, organized by the local chapter of the Association for Fundraising Professionals.

Six awards were handed out to individuals and officials at foundations and companies who have accelerated their efforts to give time and money during a slow economic downturn when nonprofits are struggling to raise funds.

“It’s been a tough year in philanthropy over the years,” said Lynn Croneberger, president of AFP D.C. “Even though we in the fundraising business haven’t been hitting the numbers, we have to move forward to care for the people we care for. The winners reminded us of that.”

Deloitte took home the Outstanding Corporate Partner award for its pro bono programs and financial support to nonprofits, including designing a disaster preparedness plan program for local charities and its Center for Leadership and Community programs that provide business strategy workshops and training.

“Our employees make recommendations everyday on ways to give back,” said Gary Tabach, vice chairman and Southeast regional managing partner. “Coming back with this award will only encourage them to want to continue their efforts.”

The company has given $638,000 to Washington area nonprofits and about 58,000 hours of community service and pro bono work.

Private practice attorney Caryl S. Bernstein won the award for Outstanding Fundraising Volunteer for working with and contributing to the Council for Court Excellence, a nonprofit that seeks to improve the judicial system.

“It’s recognition for something I never dreamt I would have recognition for,” said Bernstein. “I’ve just been doing things I thought were right for me and good for other people.”

She told audience members about her experience as a child going door to door to collect used oil, tin cans and newspapers from neighbors for the government’s recycling campaign during World War II.

Each winner was nominated by one of its beneficiaries and chosen by AFP members.

Other winners included The Agua Fund for Outstanding Foundation Partner; College Summit for Outstanding Diversity Leader; David Whitehead of the AARP Foundation for Outstanding Fundraising Professional; and Jane Lang and Paul Sprenger, founders of the Sprenger Lang Foundation, for Outstanding Philanthropist.

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