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Making a Tangible Impact With Rebecca Moffett

Rebecca Moffett, president of Vanguard Charitable, tells Worth how she and her team help their donors support the causes they care about.

Photo courtesy of Vanguard Charitable

Since childhood, Rebecca Moffett, the president of Vanguard Charitable, has been determined to make a tangible difference. One of the nation’s leading non-profit organizations and sponsor of donor-advised funds, Vanguard Charitable provides donors with the sophisticated tools to make philanthropy easy while amplifying the power of charitable giving. Worth recently spoke with Rebecca about her driving purpose, the challenges of her career, and why Vanguard Charitable’s specialized technology stands out in the landscape of donor-advised funds.

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Growing up, Rebecca was surrounded by a culture of generosity and social consciousness. Though her grandfather’s deep interest in and support of philanthropy set an example for the rest of her family, it was her mother, a special education teacher, who truly inspired her to pursue a career that would make an impact. “Even when [my mom] would come home after really challenging situations, you could just see how she understood the difference she was making and the impact she was having every single day,” said Rebecca. At St. Joseph’s University, a leading Jesuit university in Philadelphia, Rebecca continued to cultivate her interest in and passion for her community. “Giving back was a theme throughout my entire four years there,” she explained. “All of my extracurriculars were focused on social justice and community building.”

After finding herself in search of purpose at a for-profit company, Rebecca threw herself into the world of community nonprofits and made her way to Vanguard Charitable in 2005. “I was finally able to wake up every day and just feel so empowered by the piece that I was playing in the greater mission of the organization,” she explained. Inspired by Vanguard Charitable’s undertaking “to increase philanthropy and maximize its impact over time,” Rebecca decided to stay with the organization and work her way up the ladder—the organization’s ambitious mission, far-reaching impact and singularly supportive culture had earned her loyalty. After succeeding in positions across numerous divisions, from marketing to product development to strategic planning, Rebecca was named Vanguard Charitable’s third president in November of 2021.

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Despite the joy and meaning that comes with working for a charitable organization such as Vanguard Charitable, Rebecca’s sixteen-year journey has had its fair share of ups and downs. Specifically, transitions from role to role have posed distinct challenges: “I had to learn entirely new and different subject matters, and as a leader it can be hard to always know which decisions you should be a part of and which ones you should not be a part of in order to benefit your team.” Motherhood and maternity leave also presented Rebecca with unique professional hurdles. At the time of her first son’s birth, Vanguard Charitable didn’t yet have the family-friendly and supportive policies that they do today. “It was reminding myself of the impact my work was having as well as my own determination, and of course my supportive colleagues that got me through that first year,” commented Rebecca. “But going through that challenge really helped me to understand the path that I wanted to carve out for others.” She credits the leadership team and collaborative culture with helping to ameliorate maternity challenges for other women in the organization. “I’m grateful to have had those conversations and to have been a part in making a better environment for everybody moving forward.”

As president, one of the key projects that Rebecca has been an integral part of is Vanguard’s new, trailblazing charitable tool: the Nonprofit Aid Visualizer (NAVi). NAVi is both a public database and charitable choice map that helps donors to search for specific nonprofit groups and charities by geography or mission. The first iteration of the tool was released at the beginning of the pandemic when communities across the country were in need of more support than ever before. NAVi’s COVID-19 map includes over 300,000 nonprofits, many of which are small, localized groups that provide healthcare and housing in the areas most severely affected by the virus. With the help of NAVi, Vanguard Charitable’s donors were able to give more than $1.7 billion to more than 50,000 unique nonprofits across the country. “That’s over 190,000 individual grants and a 25 percent increase compared to the previous calendar year,” said Rebecca.

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In November of 2021, Rebecca and the Vanguard Charitable team released another iteration of the tool focused on hunger and homelessness and featuring over 165,000 different organizations. Despite the giving slump experienced after the first year of the pandemic, the two NAVi maps allowed committed donors to increase their giving yet again. In 2021, Vanguard Charitable donors gave $1.8 billion to 54,000 unique nonprofits. Rebecca explained one of the tool’s advantages, saying, “what’s great about NAVi is that it allows donors to make their own decisions based on what really aligns with their own values and the impact that they want to have. Both long-term Vanguard Charitable donors and someone who maybe just found our website are able to discover nonprofits that they were never familiar with before.”

Whether it’s working as a marketing manager or being president of the whole organization, Rebecca’s goal is always to help her donors support the charitable causes they care about. “There’s nothing more exciting to me than knowing that whether you’re an educational institution or religious organization or any type of nonprofit that is doing good in the world, we’ll be able to help you achieve your mission,” she said. “There’s no greater purpose than that.”

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