Iowa’s Community Foundations Join Nationwide Celebration to Recognize the Local Impact of Community Foundations
Iowa community foundations will join in a nationwide celebration from November 12-18, 2021, 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 week, community foundations come together to share and reflect on stories of impact of their recent work. Iowa community foundations continue to play an important role in responding to critical needs and leading collaborative efforts to support their communities.
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 reaches beyond the practice of giving and touches the lives of individuals, revealing a path to a brighter future. There is a tangible, positive impact for individuals and communities as a result of these organizations in each of Iowa’s 99 counties,” said Kari McCann Boutell, president of the Iowa Council of Foundations.
Iowa Community Foundations Continue Pandemic Response and Long-Term Disaster Recovery
Despite the many challenges facing our communities, Iowa community foundations are more determined than ever to bring their partners together to find innovative and effective solutions for the most pressing social problems facing Iowa residents. As community foundations find solutions for communities large and small, urban and rural, it is the collective work of these organizations that has the most profound impact. This has been illuminated by the field’s continued response to COVID-19 related challenges and needs, as well as the long-term derecho and disaster recovery work being conducted across the state.
What makes this work unique in Iowa is that each of Iowa’s 99 counties is home to at least one community foundation. This means local leaders with deep knowledge of their communities are making decisions about how best to support those in need. The Pottawattamie County Community Foundation (PCCF) identified needs for women and children in Southwest Iowa and launched their Women’s Fund in 2020. Over the past 18 months the fund has awarded over $125,000, in addition to the PCCF’s other grantmaking programs.
At the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine (CFGM), local leaders identified needs to support organizations led by and serving communities of color. Since 2020, over $160,000 has been awarded from CFGM’s Racial Justice Fund. There are countless examples of these tailored and responsive ways community foundations are serving their regions throughout Iowa.
In addition to their leadership work, community foundations are designed to have a lasting impact in their communities through philanthropy and the generosity of their donors. In the state of Iowa, the Endow Iowa Tax Credit program was launched in 2003 and has leveraged over $335 million in endowment gifts to support Iowa communities and charitable causes. This program has made nearly $78 million in tax credits available to Iowans who contribute to an endowed fund at an accredited community foundation in the state. For the past eight years, the annual tax credit limit has been $6 million per calendar year and each year every tax credit has been distributed. In fact, the 2021 and 2022 tax credits have all be allocated via a waitlist and the 2023 waitlist is already growing. Iowa community foundations hope to secure additional dollars for this program during the 2022 Iowa state legislative session.
In addition, 84 counties in Iowa that do not hold a state-issued gaming license benefit from participation in the County Endowment Fund Program. This program, established by the state legislature in 2004, is funded by a percentage of the state’s commercial gaming tax revenues. Funds are distributed annually to participating community foundations and affiliate community foundations. Local advisory committees make grant awards to nonprofits in their communities with a portion of their funds, while the remaining portion is used to build the county’s endowment fund, which can be used to support current and future needs. These grants, along with grants made in counties with a state-issued gaming license that benefit from grants from Qualified Sponsoring Organizations, ensure that each county in Iowa receives charitable grant dollars annually.
Both of these state programs contribute to the continued growth of community foundations and their ability to meet the needs in their regions now and in the future. According to the ICoF, community foundations across the state reported over $372 million in total asset growth between July 2020 and June 2021. The collective endowed assets of Iowa community foundations is now $1.2 billion as of June 30, 2021. These endowed assets will benefit communities in each of Iowa’s 99 counties – forever.
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.