The Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation’s Annual Grant Cycle deadline to submit applications was last Sunday. “It’s funny,” remarks Sarah Copeland, Director of Grants and Programs at the Community Foundation. She continues, “We get the same reaction on March 15 for the scholarship application deadline. People think the work is done at the deadline.” Brianna Spry, Community Foundation Program Administrator, laughs, “Oh my gosh! This is when our work really picks up. You should have called me last week.”
Joining Charitable Intentions with Community Needs
The Community Foundation’s tagline, or motto, is “…joining charitable intentions with community needs”. Copeland notes, “The Annual Grant Cycle is a great example of this motto in action.”
It’s Quite the Process
Spry talks about the process, “We receive all different types of grant requests. Over the next week or so, we will read the grant applications and determine if we have any questions, or need clarification. This year we received 71 grant applications, so Sarah and I will be camped out in the basement of the Community Foundation for a while. Chocolate and Rice Krispies bars can be dropped off at the Community Foundation any time between 8am and 4pm.”
Once Community Foundation staff questions have clarified, we then look at the funds we have available from which we can grant. Copeland continues, “Then, it’s like a matching game. Each fund has different criteria, so Brianna and I work as a team. Some requests are easier to match with funds than others. For example, a request from Community Café isn’t going to get matched (or joined) with the Fund for the Arts, although Community Café can get quite creative.”
Some Get One, Some Get None, but We Try Our Best
Usually, we can find a fund with criteria or intent that matches the request. Many times, we can find more than one option for possible funding. However, on occasion, we just don’t have a good match. This is where unrestricted funding comes in. Just because we find a match, doesn’t mean the request is funded. Once we have joined the request with a matching fund, we make packets, and send them to evaluation committees. “Like we said,” says Spry, “this is when our work kind of picks up.”
Unrestricted Gifts Can Serve the Community Better
Unrestricted funding works just as it sounds. It’s unrestricted, or has no assigned criteria, other than to grant for what the community needs. “Unrestricted funds come from donors, and most donors have a certain interest in mind, such as the Arts or crisis funding. There is nothing wrong with donating to your interests – we love that! However, the Community Foundation doesn’t have many unrestricted funds. If we had unrestricted funds, we could help support almost any community need.
Consider Your Passion, and Leave a Legacy to Your Community
If your passion is community, consider leaving an unrestricted gift to the Community Foundation. Your gift, through a will or estate plan can benefit any need that arises today, 10 years from now, or 50 years in the future.
Area Community Fund Donations are Doubled!
We have five Community Funds, which function similar to unrestricted funds.
The Five Community Funds are:
Deer River Area Community Fund
Greater Itasca Area Community Fund
Greenway Area Community Fund
Hill City Area Community Fund
Nashwauk Area Community Fund
The only difference is that Community Funds are geographically bound, and are designated only to support their specific location. The Community Foundation, thanks to a grant from the Blandin Foundation, will double every gift* to a Community Fund. (*There are some minor restrictions, so if you plan to donate a larger amount of money, a car or a baseball signed by Babe Ruth, give us a call at 218-999-9100.)
The Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation has been connecting donors’ charitable intentions to community needs for over 25 years to make our Greater Itasca Area – and the world – a better place to live. We invite you to become part of the great work we do and to include us in the conversation with your financial or estate planner to answer the question “What good do you want your money to do?” For more information, click around this website, or schedule a visit by calling (218) 999-9100.