24th Annual Community Foundation Week Recognizes Impact, Leadership

Nov. 12, 2013 null

This week, local community foundations will join more than 750 community foundations across America for the 24th Annual Community Foundation Week to tell the stories of lives changed, jobs created, and communities transformed through philanthropy's partnership with private and public community leaders and organizations. This year, Iowa's community foundations have several reasons to celebrate.

Iowa is unique in that it has two legislated programs focused on increasing philanthropic activity to enhance the quality of life for Iowans.  Both programs, the Endow Iowa Tax Credit Program and the County Endowment Fund Program, are implemented through local community foundations.

Key anniversary - and expansion

2013 is the 10th anniversary of the creation of the Endow Iowa Tax Credit program - an anniversary marked by an expansion of the program.  During the past legislative session, the annual tax credit limit was raised from $4.5 million to $6 million per calendar year. The Endow Iowa Tax Credit is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis for gifts made to a permanent endowment fund, established for the benefit of Iowa charitable causes, at a qualified community foundation. The tax credits are utilized by a wide range of donors and can be claimed by individuals, businesses, or financial institutions. Since 2003, more than $115 million has been invested in community foundations through Endow Iowa. The program is administered by the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) in collaboration with the Iowa Council of Foundations (ICoF).

At a recent event to commemorate the expansion of the Endow Iowa Tax Credit program, Jerry Mathiasen, chair of the ICoF Board of Directors and an executive with the Iowa West Foundation, thanked the Governor and the Legislature for approving the increase in available tax credits.  "This tax credit helps Iowans keep charitable money here to meet future local needs in our state. Philanthropy is growing, thanks to Endow Iowa," Mathiasen said.

Continued support for Iowa counties

In 2013, more than $11.2 million dollars was distributed to 85 community foundations and their county affiliates across the state through the County Endowment Fund Program. The County Endowment Fund program is funded with eight-tenths of one percent (0.8%) of the state's commercial gaming tax revenue. These funds are distributed annually among participating foundations and affiliates associated with counties without a state-issued gaming license. This year, program participants received approximately $132,000. Of that amount, the recipients will grant 75 percent (approximately $99,000) directly to local non-profits to support their work. The remaining 25 percent (approximately $33,000) will be added to each funds' unrestricted endowment to provide a permanent source of funding for future giving.

Local asset growth

According to the ICoF, community foundations across the state reported over $110 million in total asset growth between June 2012 and June 2013. The collective assets of Iowa community foundations grew to approximately $653 million in June 2013 (up from $543 million in June 2012). This represents growth of 20% in just 12 months. Mathiasen attributes this growth to increased visibility and continued implementation of Endow Iowa and the County Endowment Fund Programs. This growth is a testament both to the power of community foundations across our state to engage Iowans in supporting local charitable causes - and the vision of our elected officials in supporting these incentive programs," added Laura Sauser, ICoF President.

Community foundations represent one of the fastest-growing forms of philanthropy. Every state in the United States is home to at least one community foundation-large and small, urban and rural-that is advancing solutions to a wide range of social issues. The 2012 Columbus Survey found that as the nation continues through a difficult economic recovery, grants by community foundations increased by 21% since 2006. Iowa's community foundation infrastructure includes approximately 130 community foundations.

About Community Foundation Week

Launched in 1989 through a proclamation by former president George H.W. Bush, the first Community Foundation Week included a congressional briefing about the work of community foundations throughout America and their collaborative approach to working with the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to address community problems.