We’ve said this for years: Grundy County is a very generous community. If a family has a house fire or someone is ill, the money, food and support come pouring in.
Why is that? One big reason is that the need is defined and easy to understand. House fire. Got it. Replace clothing, furniture, kitchen items, plus money for groceries and rental house. Someone is ill. Got it. Money for medical bills, help with the kids, sign up to deliver meals so the family doesn’t have to cook.
The needs of charities can be this simple … or more complex. So how do we communicate the needs of the nonprofits serving Grundy County?
We are excited to announce our new Grundy County Nonprofit Wish List Project. We have developed a survey that nonprofits can complete online. Our definition of “nonprofit” is pretty broad to include 501(c)(3)s and local units of government, including libraries, school districts, park districts and fire districts – any organization eligible to receive donations under IRS rules. As always, check with a tax adviser about whether your donation is deductible.
The survey is available online at cfgrundycounty.com. Here we ask for the organization’s mission, services, three things they do well, three things they try to do better, tangible items donors can supply and any volunteer opportunities. Regarding tangible items, we ask them for a soup to nuts list, from inexpensive to super expensive, whether its diapers and books for baby programs to vans and buildings to replace their aging ones.
The survey was designed to help a variety of donors, too. Some donors like to purchase and deliver goods, such as groceries to a food pantry, diapers and books for baby programs, or meals to volunteers on a job site. Some donors like to have their names on things, such as buildings, rooms, libraries or programs. Some can’t afford big items on their own but are happy to partner with others. Some donors just like to give cash and trust the charity to do with it what they need.
In the two weeks since we invited the nonprofits to complete the survey, we have gotten many responses and have already posted them on our website – we invite you to take a look!
We also plan to take the “tangible items” section and post it as a spreadsheet sorted by need rather than nonprofit. This way the community can see need by groupings – which nonprofits have similar needs. It might be a way to build synergy – if you’re buying books for one program, will you be willing to buy for all? Or the flip: if one program is buying books through a discount program, can we join together to buy everyone’s books through the same discount program and get even more of a discount?
What’s in it for the Community Foundation? Our role in Grundy County is to “connect people who care with causes that matter.” Our service is donor-designed funds so that donors can use living or estate assets to support the charities and causes that they care about … sometimes forever through endowed funds.
As a donor, we invite you to look at the Wish List and take action based on your personality and budget. Then we ask you to consider a donor-designed fund, which can be designed to fit your personality and budget, too. And because we are the local endowment experts, your fund can be endowed to forever support the organizations and issues that you care about.
Are you passionate about books? Set up a fund so organizations can purchase them when they need them. How about children in general? There are many agencies working in this age bracket, and they all need extra funding, supplies and staff. Regardless of what you care about – kids, seniors, recreation, art, housing, at-risk families – a fund that you design with your assets will help them meet the needs of their clients and improve the quality of life in Grundy County overall.
So, during these blah winter months, please scan the Wish List answers and take action. We believe you will be surprised at how simple and straightforward many of these needs are and how easily your donation can fix them!
• Julianne Buck is the Executive Director of the Community Foundation of Grundy County