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Not-for-profits partner with for-profits to increase impact of giving

Icing on the cake

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JOHNSON COUNTY — Not-for-profit organizations in the Corridor have put together some creative thinking with a few creative partnerships to increase the impact of their giving campaigns.

The Crisis Center of Johnson County, for example, partnered with MidWestOne Bank on #GivingTuesday, an initiative to increase giving to charitable organizations on the day after Cyber Monday.

“We were looking for a creative way to kick off our Project Holiday campaign,” recalled Jay Capron, communications coordinator at the Crisis Center. Planners came up with the idea of working with MidWestOne Bank to match donations for the first $1,000 for the campaign.

“Matching grants are a great way to increase the overall contributions because the community is inspired to give more to make sure we receive the full donation from the sponsor,” he said.

Capron noted it is not the first time the organizations have partnered as MidWestOne Bank matched donations coming to the Crisis Center earlier in 2015 when it also was partnering with Pullman Diner and Bobby’s Pies for a pie sales fundraiser.

“We are hoping to increase the amount of matching grants that we receive in the future because we feel that it can be a very effective way to raise funds,” Capron added.

Kids First Law Center, based in Cedar Rapids, had a social media push for people to take an “unselfie” and give to the organization on #GivingTuesday. It, too, had a corporate sponsor help the organization take it another step further with matching funds.

Officials approached the University of Iowa Community Credit Union to match gifts coming in that day up to $2,500, Kids First Development Director Libby Slappey said.

“We more than exceeded our goal,” she said, noting what a successful partnership it was. “ ... It was thrilling to hear people say they saw the match information and they sent a check. Generally speaking, donor matches are inspiring. They are the little extra nudge that encourage people to give.”

‘Benefit of advocacy’

Cedar Valley Habitat for Humanity had a similar matching gift grant #GivingTuesday partnership. But Habitat just recently finished up another creative fundraising effort in partnership with the Hy-Vee on Edgewood Road.

The two organizations hosted a raffle for a custom playhouse built by volunteers connected with Hy-Vee.

Patti Kunz, director of development at Cedar Valley Habitat for Humanity, said the idea came from one of their board members, Tracy Kading, who also is store manager at the Edgewood Road retailer.

“This is the first time we have raffled a playhouse, but we have done other fundraisers with Hy-Vee,” Kunz noted. “We enjoy ... the creativity with these types of fundraisers in order to involve more individuals and connect them to our mission.”

It connects to Hy-Vee’s mission as well, Kading added: “Hy-Vee believes it is important to be involved, work and serve the communities in which we live and support. And this type of collaboration is a win, win, win.

“An organization is able to provide a resource of funds, then a resource of time builds the project and finally the public donates a resource of money to have a chance to win a playhouse. I also believe there is a benefit of advocacy — maybe one new volunteer is developed, a new annual contributor is made, a person will apply for a Habitat home and gain access to housing through awareness — then the reward is hard to measure.”

Hy-Vee is no stranger to charitable partnerships.

“Last year at this time we partnered by offering Eat Green with Shrek cooking classes to compliment our having ‘Shrek the Musical’ on stage,” said Josie Rozum, community relations specialist at Theatre Cedar Rapids. “Each Hy-Vee dietitian created healthy recipes for kids to do all while using the theme Shrek. It was a great way for TCR to promote the show as well as for Hy-Vee to showcase their dietitian resources.

“When working with any of our corporate partners, we want the relationship to be as mutually benefiting as possible,” Rozum added. “By coming up with creative and interesting fundraising partnerships, something sticks in people’s minds, too. Creative community collaboration is a feel-good moment where anyone can appreciate the relationship between various organizations.”

Some not-for-profit/for-profit partnerships operate year-round. AW Welt Ambrisco Insurance, based in Iowa City, has a charitable-giving program built into its corporate philosophy.

“For many years we struggled finding a good way to thank people for the many referrals we receive, until three years ago when we started our AW360 referral program,” said Joe Wegman, president at AW Welt Ambrisco. “If someone recommends our agency, whether we do business with that person or not, we send the referring person a $5 gift card and then set aside $5 for a designated non-profit organization.

“We change the non-profit every six months, and at the end of the six months we add up the total referrals and present a check to that organization. In addition, we make sure to support any event that non-profit may have during the six months. Donating money is important, but donating time is as well.”

A committee of 10 employees serves as the group that determines which local not-for-profit to support every six months.

“For the referral program, the Community Committee meets, they vote and then approach the non-profit to see if they want to partner with us,” Wegman said. “We ask three things from the chosen non-profit — that a representative of the non-profit comes to one of our agency meetings to talk about their organization; that we are able to show their name, logo on our referral literature; and that we are able to present them a check at their board meeting. Getting to know the non-profit is important to the success of the program ...

“Certainly they appreciate the donation at the end of six months, but I believe they appreciate the morale support and us helping to get the word out about their mission.”

Not-for-profits agreed these partnership fundraisers aren’t just about dollars raised.

“We look at these creative collaboration partnerships as beneficial to our promotional efforts as much as we do our development efforts,” Rozum said. “The financial aspect of these fundraisers is really the icing on the cake.”

Slappey agreed.

“UICCU’s reach goes into one universe and Kids First’s goes into a different universe,” she said. “We make new friends in their world and they make new friends in our world. We are a pretty small entity and UICCU is a larger entity, and we really appreciate their boost.”

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