By Loretta Tappan
The Community Foundation of Grant County has an extra $100,000 every year to give to nonprofits and charities in Grant County, thanks to a $1 million matching grant challenge from the Lilly endowment.
The Foundation received the $1 million grant in August 2014, as part of a challenge Lilly made to 94 community foundations throughout the state of Indiana. The foundations received between $500,000 and $3M from Lilly Endowment, depending on the size of the population.
“The last time the Lilly Endowment had given a gift with a matching challenge was 12 years ago, so it wasn’t even on our radar that this is a possibility. We just were thankful, obviously, for everything that they have done for us at Lilly Endowment,” Dawn Brown, executive director of the Community Foundation of Grant County.
The Lilly Endowment wanted the community foundations to match the money with local gifts, and gave them 18 months to do it. Lilly also stipulated that at least half of the money be placed in an unrestricted fund to be used for the good of the general community.
“Half of [the challenge grant] was used for our donors—to match endowments that they had here or endowments that they wanted to build here,” said Brown, “So, if a family had a family scholarship endowment and they wanted to increase the amount of that scholarship, they could donate and get matched. That…money went away fast—really almost within 90 days it was matched.
“The second half of the money was for the Community Foundation Impact Fund, and this was a stipulation [from Lilly] for every foundation—50% of it had to go to…an ‘unrestricted fund’…we call it the Community Impact Fund because that’s the fund that we use to do our annual grant making,” Brown said.
“[The Lilly Endowment] want us to be stronger grant makers,” she said, “They want us to have more money to do grants. They know that we are the women and men on the street. We are here. We know what needs to be done, who to help. We know what nonprofits are out there, so they knew if they could help us grow that fund that we would ultimately be a stronger foundation.”
“When money goes into an endowment it stays there forever, but we invest it and grow it, so that allows us to draw out 4.5% of the endowed fund balance annually (in perpetuity) in order to make grants,” said Brown, “Therefore, their $1 million, combined with the $1.5 million raised to match that equals $2.5 million. Four and a half percent of $2.5 million equals $112,500 more money to make grants [each year].”
Lilly gave the money up front, with the stipulation that, if the Community Foundation didn’t match the full amount, it would be penalized in any further grants that Lilly might make in the future. Meaning the Community Foundation could keep the $1 million given in August 2014, but if Lilly offers another challenge in the future and the Foundation hadn’t met this match, they would subtract the amount unmatched from the next gift.
The Community Foundation met the match, just in time.
“There was a little pressure because, first of all, you want to respect their gift, huge, and you want them to understand how seriously you take it,” Brown said, “Secondly, you don’t ever want to think about not getting a gift later that you could get just because you weren’t able to pull it off this time. And, the third, the biggest reason, they did it is because they did want to strengthen our grant making and we did want that community impact fund to be as big as it possibly could. So there was a lot at stake to making all of that happen.
“Unbelievable story from the beginning to the end. Amazing team. Amazing board. To just know what the goal was and just to work it every single day literally until the very last day where we able to pull it off and make it happen,” said Brown.
A total of 36 grants have been made through the Community Impact Fund in the past two years as a result of the matching fund, and 15 people started brand new endowments just to take advantage of the matching.
For a list of the 36 funds created in the past two years, see sidebar to this story. For more information about the Community Foundation of Grant County and funding opportunities, visit givetogrant.org.
By Loretta Tappan