Visualizing 30 Years of Grantmaking from the Kendeda Fund
“A successful garden requires care and attention in the here and now, and a leap of faith about the future. When you plant a young tree, your job is to nurture it so it can grow and thrive, even though you won't be around to appreciate it fully grown. Closure isn’t the point. The knowledge that you have left something beautiful behind is the true gift.”
— Diana Blank

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Phase 1: Early 1990s to early 2000s

Diana Blank, the Kendeda Fund’s founder, initially conducted her charitable giving quietly and informally. Grant recipients tended to be established Atlanta-area civic institutions. She had no formal giving vehicle, no staff, and little public visibility. It was classic “checkbook philanthropy” by a new donor who was learning as she went. Yet the early seeds of intuitive, trust-based giving were apparent even at the start.
Follow along as we construct the Kendeda Fund’s grant making history through a virtual garden, where each plant represents one organization funded. Watch the plants grow over time, as organizations flourish through support provided by Kendeda.
Each leafrepresents one grantdisbursementPlant heightrepresentsnumberof years

Phase 2: Early 2000s to early 2010s

With growing confidence, Diana broadened and evolved her approach using a simple structure. She contributed to an environmentally-focused donor-advised fund, created a charitable trust, and added a single philanthropic advisor with back-office support from a professional services organization. This protected Diana’s anonymity, even as she was increasing the size and frequency of her gifts and expanding into national work. During this period, “Kendeda” was born, a melding of the names of Diana’s three children.

Phase 3: Early 2010s to early 2023

Shedding her long-held anonymity, Diana hired an executive director and a small but experienced team to help achieve her vision while spending-out the Fund over its final decade. The team articulated ambitious programmatic goals and pioneered a unique model that relied on long-term relationships, a lean governance model, and the ability to act with agility, trust and creativity.

Giving Categories

Early investments focused primarily on the environment and civic life in Atlanta . Over time, Kendeda built seven formal programs (Atlanta Equity, Girls’ Rights, Gun Violence Prevention, Montana, People Place and Planet, Southeast Sustainability, and Veterans). A desire to invest in transformative leaders and ideas and to support individual dignity and community sustainability united these programs. When you enter the garden, select from the 10 ‘Giving Categories’ on the upper right side of your screen.

Cross-Cutting Topics

Within each program’s design and goals, strong themes existed. A belief in the power of storytelling yielded significant investments in media and communications. A lean operating model necessitated intermediaries as re-grantors. Diana’s environmental ethos meant a green building element for most capital investments. Kendeda’s comfort with risk led to investments in many startup endeavors. And responsibly spending out led to an innovative operating reserves program. Choose from these five cross-cutting ‘Topics’ on the lower right side of your screen.

Explore Our Virtual Garden

Having walked you through what’s available, we invite you to explore our garden and learn more about Kendeda’s giving and strategic approach. To help identify and highlight trends, see grant disbursement categories and use the right side panel to explore each one. Clicking one highlights all grants made to that category, and gives background on why giving to such organizations was so important to the Kendeda Fund.
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