Deaf-centric nonprofit organizations work tirelessly to provide uniquely accessible and culturally responsive services. These organizations often experience financial challenges, which impact the scope and scale of the essential work they do for deaf individuals, families and communities.
Less than 2% of philanthropic dollars are directed toward nonprofits that work with disabled communities; thus, deaf-centric organizations’ access to funding is extremely limited. Moreover, the nonprofit sector itself—from grant programs, to networking events, to professional development opportunities, and more—is frequently inaccessible to deaf organization leaders.
We’re here to change all that! Deaf Organizations Fund (DOF) was established in 2021 to offer fully accessible grants and resources to deaf-centric nonprofits based in the United States.
Our work marries the lenses of trust-based philanthropy and disability justice. Organizations that work on the front lines know their communities’ needs best, and DOF trusts deaf-centric organizations to utilize our grants in ways that best align with their missions and, ultimately, in ways that best serve deaf communities.
To date, DOF has distributed nearly $400K in grant funds among 24 deaf-centric organizations.
Sasha Ponappa (she/her) is a passionate advocate and an endlessly curious learner. She led an agency serving deaf survivors of domestic violence and sexual violence, supported multiple nonprofit networks, and managed various federally-funded and state-funded programs. As the executive director of DOF, she works with the board of directors, builds donor relationships, and acts as an organization liaison, directly supporting countless deaf-centric nonprofits across the country! Key to her everyday life is navigating the world as a South Asian, deaf, former child immigrant who is raising her two wild children and a gentle cockapoo in New York.
Avi (she/her) identifies as a white, deaf, culturally Jewish woman who has over 10 years of experience in the nonprofit sector. She credits her leadership opportunities at a statewide deaf domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy organization for her broad expertise in fundraising, grant writing, and community work. In her current role as Director of Development & Fundraising, Avi focuses on ensuring DOF is financially able to support the needs of deaf organizations through cultivating and stewarding donor relationships along with coordinating fundraising events. She lives in Maryland with her family, and almost always has her nose in an e-book when she’s not whipping up something in the kitchen.
Dan Mabashov is an experienced Project Manager with eight years of organizing, implementing, and delivering successful projects. As a white deaf gay man, Dan is committed to leveraging his privileges to make an equitable and accessible impact in philanthropy by ensuring DOF’s grant applications and materials are accessible and available in multiple languages, including American Sign Language (ASL). Beyond work, Dan’s always imagining his next travel destination and doting on his adorable nibling, Lux.