Benefunder's Year in Review
With the New Year fast approaching, it's a time to reflect and give back -- and reaffirm some commitments for the future too. For Benefunder, 2016 was a year of challenges, but, as a result of it all, we've emerged as a better organization -- and have never been more powerfully positioned to take our mission forward.
As many of you know, at the start of the year we adjusted our business strategy, transitioning to the role of philanthropic advisor for donor advised funds (DAFs) offered by leading wealth management firms through financial advisors. We believe we've landed on a model that truly puts focus on our unique offering: A marketplace of vetted research programs tailor-made for attracting donors seeking to achieve the greatest impact via their giving. This greater alignment with wealth management firms has allowed Benefunder to gain new traction in the marketplace; for example, we have signed an agreement to make our marketplace available to advisors and their clients through the American Endowment Foundation, the largest independent provider of DAFs. This year we also welcomed a new board chairman, Chris Blunt, who will offer Benefunder the benefits of decades of experience and leadership in the wealth management industry.
Meanwhile, key events of the past year have only reinforced the urgent need for our research and innovation marketplace. As the year began, the Zika outbreak captured the attention of the world and demonstrated the ongoing need for a more efficient and sustainable method for funding high-quality academic research. As is true of many public health crises, the infrastructure for collecting and distributing funds to address this very specific disease area has lagged far behind the research itself -- an inefficient use of money and, more importantly, time. Going forward, we will inevitably see more health crises demanding concerted public response -- and offering the opportunity to leverage the growing interest in highly targeted, demonstrably impactful philanthropy. When such crises arise, what if we were prepared with a quick and efficient means to direct donations to researchers already working on the cutting-edge in that disease area? Enter Benefunder -- uniquely structured to provide just that kind of targeted support for researchers as well as a valued opportunity for donors.
As we neared year-end, we saw other events in a very different arena that served to underscore our crucial role. Recent election results have thrown an already uncertain public funding environment for academic research further into doubt, and a decade-long trend of stagnant government-directed funding for research shows few signs of abating any time soon. For donors -- and researchers -- frustrated by the vagaries of undulating political support for research, this is the moment for private philanthropy to fill the void of receding government funding. The academic community needs new channels of financial support now more than ever -- and our commitment to strengthening our own vital channel to that community has never been stronger.
We are pleased with our progress over the year now ending and excited about the future. Today, Benefunder's mission to serve donors, their advisors and the research community could hardly be more critical. As the New Year begins, we'll be redoubling our efforts to extend the impact of our platform even further -- and we plan to keep you informed every step of the way.
Please accept our thanks for your continued support of Benefunder as well as our heartfelt wishes for your success in the year to come.