The following editorial was published by Loudoun Now on October 11, 2018.

Next week in Ashburn, Loudoun leaders will gather for the county’s annual Philanthropy Summit.

This is not a forum for nonprofit managers to compare notes on the overwhelming challenges of meeting growing needs on ever-shrinking budgets. This is the opportunity for a community conversation on the importance of charitable giving and the very tangible results those investments are having. It’s not just that these organizations—largely fueled by volunteers—improve lives of our neighbors in need; in many cases they are saving lives.

This year’s program will have a particular focus on behavioral health, teen wellness and substance abuse. After years of alarming increases, the community’s efforts to combat suicide and opioid abuse are gaining traction. Those results powerfully demonstrate what can be achieved when the community invests money and time into solving critical challenges.

The conversation occurs in an environment in which the level of charitable giving in Loudoun continues to lag behind that of neighboring counties—and even the statewide average. Is there any other income-related statistic in which Loudoun performs below the state average? Even just matching Virginia’s average giving levels would add more than $150 million annually to build a stronger local safety net.

Want to better understand why philanthropy matters? What to see the difference you can make in the community? The summit runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18 at the Loudoun County School Administration Building in Broadlands. It’s free. Register at