Matching Grants Will Help Three Nonprofit Organizations Create Endowment Funds

Although 2020 was a difficult year for nonprofit organizations, they have not stopped thinking about the long-term health and wellbeing of our communities. While dealing with cancelled fundraisers, altered programming, and often increased demand for services, many local nonprofits are also using the challenges as opportunities to consider their long-term stability.

For those with endowment funds, the volatility of funding during the crises was slightly reduced.

“Endowments can provide general operating support and funding for areas of high importance,” said Laura Booth, Development Officer. “This can help an organization not only fulfill their mission today, but also think about their future in our community.”

Because establishing an endowment can be difficult, the Community Foundation offers Endowment Challenge Grants as an investment in the mission and future of the organization. A grant from this fund matches gifts to the organization at a rate of $1 for every $3 raised, up to $25,000, with five years to meet the match.

The result is an endowment of $100,000, held at the Community Foundation and managed with a long-term time horizon. The goal of the endowment is to preserve value the while allowing for an annual distribution.

“Giving to an organization’s endowment is a powerful act,” Laura said. “It’s a gift that will grow and do exponential good. It is truly an investment in the future of the organization and our community.”

In 2020, three organizations received Endowment Challenge grants: African American Museum of Iowa, Area Substance Abuse Council, and Red Cedar Chamber Music.


African American Museum of Iowa

As the only statewide museum devoted to preserving African American history and culture, the African American Museum of Iowa is a great asset to our community. The museum reaches more than 30,000 people from across the state each year.

“Deciding to pursue endowment support now makes sense because adapting to the realities brought by the pandemic, derecho and national protests for equality in 2020 reinforced the fact that things happen out of our control,” said LaNisha Cassell, Executive Director. “Taking the necessary steps will ensure the Museum’s sustainability.”

Having an endowment can alleviate some short-term funding needs, allowing the Museum to think about the big picture.

“Receiving the Endowment Challenge Grant gives us the opportunity to plan for our future,” LaNisha said. “Our long-term goal to provide invaluable educational resources across the entire state while making a continued impact today is more attainable because of this grant.”


Area Substance Abuse Council

Since 1962, Area Substance Abuse Council (ASAC) has been empowering communities through prevention, education, and treatment services. As the nonprofit neared its 60th anniversary, it became clear that an endowment could play a key role in supporting its mission.

“An endowment fund for ASAC is especially important as we work to assure that there are substance use prevention, treatment and recovery services for our community,” said Jeannette Archer-Simmons, Executive Director. “ASAC’s vision begins with a stable financial organization that has resources designed to ride economic shifts and changes in funding streams.”

For those accessing ASAC services, knowing the organization will be there for them in the future makes a big difference.

“The endowment fund provides for the possibilities of hope for those just getting started on their treatment and recovery journey,” Jeannette said.


Red Cedar Chamber Music

Red Cedar Chamber Music was founded in 1997 to bring musical performances to the area through a variety of channels. Founders Jan Boland and John Dowdall always intended for the organization to live beyond their tenure, and in 2016 the organization transitioned to new directors Miera Kim and Carey Bostian, who happen to be a married couple.

“We found ourselves uniquely positioned to make lemonade from lemons,” they said. “We have been able to continue rehearsing and performing from home, and we’ve produced four concerts since April 2020, using our teenage sons as guest musicians.”

In 2020, the organization managed to produce more hours of programming than in a typical year, while still looking toward the future. “With the Endowment Challenge Grant, we will be building toward a more stable future, ensuring that Red Cedar will continue to reach underserved populations through the next succession and beyond,” the directors said.


To give to these endowment funds to help these organizations meet their match, click here.