Meet our 2017 Montgomery County Philanthropist of the Year

Cliff White was a founding partner of N.E.W. Customer Service Companies Inc., the nation’s leading provider of extended service plans and buyer protection programs for consumer products. Wanting to focus on philanthropy after leaving N.E.W., Cliff and his wife, Debbie, opened their family fund at the Greater Washington Community Foundation. Right away, Cliff joined the foundation’s Sharing Montgomery Grants committee to learn more about the needs of his home community and explore how he could make a difference.

In 2008, Cliff was especially concerned about Montgomery County’s most vulnerable residents who were being hit hardest by the economic downturn. “I was at a grants committee meeting in the fall of 2008 when someone mentioned that Manna Food Center in Rockville was experiencing a 40% increase in requests for food,” he recalls. “That was at the beginning of the economic downturn. It was clear then that things were going to get worse. I’m not sure any of us knew how much worse.” By the end of that year, people who previously had been donors to Manna’s food pantry had become clients.

It was then that he realized how those of us who are in a position to give have a tremendous responsibility to make a difference. “Many of us have a financial cushion and are able to weather an economic storm of this magnitude. And for those of us who are, we need to give more than ever.”

Believing that people would step up if they were aware of the growing needs, Cliff helped lead the creation of our Neighbors in Need Montgomery Fund to bolster support for the county’s safety-net providers. To date, Neighbors in Need Montgomery has galvanized over $1.5 million to support our lowest income neighbors. According to Cliff, "Giving to The Neighbors in Need Fund ensures your money will be spent wisely and efficiently and will go to a select list of worthy organizations.”

My parents taught us to look out for our neighbors,” White adds. “That’s something that’s always been important to me.
— Cliff White