[November 12, 2019] ─ Iowa Community Foundations will join in a nationwide celebration, November 12-18, 2019, to recognize the increasingly important role these philanthropic organizations play in fostering local collaboration and innovation to address persistent civic and economic challenges. During this time, community foundations come together to share and reflect on stories of impact over the past year. In this milestone year, Iowa’s community foundations have much to celebrate.
Community foundations are independent, public entities which steward philanthropic resources from individual and institutional donors to local nonprofit organizations that are the heart of strong, vibrant communities. “The work of community foundations spans beyond the practice of giving. There is a tangible impact that can be seen in each county in Iowa,” said Kari McCann Boutell, President of the Iowa Council of Foundations (ICoF).
Celebrating 15 Years of the County Endowment Fund Program
Iowa is unique in that it has two legislated programs, implemented through local community foundations, focused on increasing philanthropic activity to enhance the quality of life for Iowans. This year marks the 15th Anniversary of the County Endowment Fund Program. In FY20, more than $11.41 million dollars were distributed to 84 county community foundations across the state through the program, which is funded with eight-tenths of one percent (0.8%) of the state’s commercial gaming tax revenue. These funds are distributed annually among qualified foundations and affiliates associated with counties without a state-issued gaming license. For FY20, each of these community foundations received approximately $135,000. Of that amount, the recipients will grant 75 percent (approximately $101,000) directly to local nonprofits and charitable causes in their communities. The remaining 25 percent (approximately $34,000) will be added to each county’s unrestricted endowment fund to provide a permanent source of funding for future projects and programs.
Endow Iowa Continues to Leverage Dollars for Good
The Endow Iowa Tax Credit program was launched in 2004 and has leveraged over $287 million in endowment gifts to support Iowa communities and charitable causes. This program has made nearly $66 million in tax credits available to Iowans who contribute to an endowed fund at an accredited community foundation in the state. For the past six years, the annual tax credit limit has been $6 million per calendar year and each year every tax credit has been distributed. The Endow Iowa Tax Credit is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis and is utilized by a wide range of donors. Credits can be claimed by individuals, businesses, or financial institutions. The Endow Iowa Tax Credit program is administered by the Iowa Economic Development Authority in collaboration with the ICoF.
Local Asset Growth
According to the ICoF, community foundations across the state reported over $93 million in total asset growth between July 2018 and June 2019. The collective assets of Iowa community foundations grew to approximately $1.23 billion in June 2019 (up from $1.14 billion in June 2018).
Community Foundation Leadership
Community foundations are leaders across Iowa on important community issues. Several community foundations in Iowa are currently working in partnership with the Iowa Women’s Foundation to support quality, affordable childcare and eliminate childcare deserts across the state. Community foundations bring a collaborative approach to solving tough problems in their communities, which leads to innovative solutions like partnerships with employers, new childcare centers, providing capacity building support for existing childcare providers and even funding research to better understand needs.
In addition, community foundations leverage private resources to form effective public-private partnerships. This can be seen in the Employer Innovation Fund Grants which were provided to the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque and Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine this summer through Future Ready Iowa. These community foundations used their convening power to bring partners and resources together to tackle tough employment challenges in their communities.
Community foundations are also poised to support disasters preparedness, response, and recovery in their local communities and beyond. This year, both the Quad Cities Community Foundation and the Community Foundations of Southwest Iowa, an affiliate of the Omaha Community Foundation, opened several funds to support disaster recovery efforts following spring 2019 flooding throughout their regions, among various other efforts throughout the state. These are just a few examples of the countless ways community foundations are serving their regions.
About Community Foundations Week
Community Foundations Week was created in 1989 by former president George H.W. Bush to recognize the work of community foundations throughout America and their collaborative approach to working with the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to address community problems. As community foundations find solutions for communities large and small, urban and rural – it is the collective work of these organizations that will have the most profound impact.
To locate your local community foundation, please visit www.IowaCommunityFoundations.org.