B Magazine: A philanthropic leader talks about the impact of COVID, the power of the individual on nonprofits (3/16/22)


Robin Koetting, program manager for United Way of Southeast Missouri’s Read to Succeed early literacy program, and her daughters Audrey Koetting, 13 (passenger seat) and Zoe Koetting, 18 (holding a sign) walk past the Franklin Elementary School during the UWSEMO #GiveUnitedCarParade on Tuesday, May 5, 2020, in Cape Girardeau. Elizabeth Shelton, executive director of UWSEMO, said Tuesday was “‘Giving Tuesday Now’ which is celebrated around the world to help non-profits helping those affected by COVID-19.” She said Tuesday was chosen for the parade “to thank the essential workers who stayed at work and the volunteers who also risked their own health to help others.” Shelton said those who are able can donate financially to the organization’s COVID-19 fund. She said the organization supports 30 other nonprofits that are helping.

Jacob Wiegand ~ Southeast Missouri

The Southeastern Council on Philanthropy (SECOP) was established in 1998 and is a professional organization comprised of community members from southeastern Missouri who work or serve on nonprofit boards of directors for the improvement of the region. People involved in SECOP become members of the organization to coordinate activities and events to share information about opportunities to serve those in need.

Some of the organizations within SECOP include the Southeastern Missouri Arts Council, Community Foundation of the Ozarks, Gibson Recovery Center, Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri, and Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland. The council includes more than 30 other nonprofits.

For organizations within SECOP to receive funding, they must go through a grant process, including an application.

The submitted application describes the unmet needs of the organization, its importance and its impact on the community.

Judy Cantoni, regional director of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, is the new vice-president of the Southeastern Council on Philanthropy. She explained how nonprofits receive funding in a variety of ways, as opposed to a for-profit business, which typically receives revenue by providing services or goods.

“For nonprofits, it works a little differently in that there isn’t just one revenue stream,” Cantoni said. “Their income for operating purposes comes from a variety of grants that are everywhere, in addition to support from private donors. Some of the organizations may receive public assistance with reference to state or federal funding. So, they rely on a variety of things that produce the amount of money in their budget to be able to provide the services that they provide to the community. It’s a very different structure, so you can see how it gives them a lot of appeal and a lot of different hats that they have to wear with the process to make it work.

There are a variety of grants available for nonprofit organizations, including those at the federal and state level. Most organizations are associated with the branch of government that supports the specific type of cause the nonprofit represents. Examples include food service, conservation or health services. Grants at the federal and state level are often linked to a national grant system. Nonprofit organizations must register and provide credentials in order to receive funding from the National Grants System. Dues are $100 per calendar year, and the organization can receive a number of benefits, which can be found on the SECOP website.

Contributions to nonprofits come from a number of entities, but the majority of donations come from individuals. A study was done in 2017 by Giving USA to report on the percentage of funding sources. The results showed that corporations contributed 5%, bequests 9%, foundations 16% and individuals 70%. The study also showed the percentages for various nonprofit recipients of contributions made by donors. Religion received 31% of contributions, education 14%, human services 12%, donations to grant-making foundations 11%, health 9%, public safety 7%, international affairs 6%, arts 5%, the environment 3% and individuals 2%.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, SECOP and other nonprofits have faced new challenges securing donations.

“Entities that couldn’t keep their doors open to the general public, but weren’t primary recipients of donor money, like Discovery Playhouse, Humane Society, Arts Council, or Historic Preservation, those kinds of areas who certainly have annual expenses to maintain and have projects that were halfway through have been affected,” Cantoni said. quo. For the same reasons that everyone else was affected, they weren’t front and center in the minds of the donors.”

In order to combat dwindling funding, nonprofits have had to change the way they approach and engage with their donors, keeping donors up to date with the changes taking place and how business processes would be performed in the future. Since organizations rely heavily on communicating with their donors, this change has increased the cost of how they stay in touch with their donors. Nonprofits have been unable to hold their annual fundraising events, which serve as a first or second line of funding, depending on the organization.

“Most organizations have their own larger annual event, and then all of them typically host smaller events or coordinate with other entities to host group fundraising opportunities throughout the year,” said Cantoni. “For example, historic preservation groups, for example here, run by the Kellermans, means they usually have an annual fundraising event that’s directed towards whatever major project they can work on.”

Cantoni stressed the importance of individual donations to nonprofit organizations in their communities. She explained true philanthropy as a donor recognizing how contributions can make their community sustainable and make a difference not just to the community, but to individuals within the community. Cantoni talked about one of his favorite contribution stories regarding an Inheritance Fund grant, which is a fund that an individual can use to support a charitable cause that will only take effect after their death.

“One of my favorite stories with the Community Foundation of the Ozarks was about a woman who was a teacher. Obviously, we know that teacher salaries are not in the billions a year. Their amount of money they can offer is somewhat minimal compared to the billionaire,” Cantoni said. “This young lady came into the office every paycheck and deposited money into her fund which she had established for the purpose of long-term philanthropic support for her community. She did this for 43 years, and recently, when she passed away, the fund she set up for education purposes created a scholarship endowed with $2 million.

For more information about the South East Council on Philanthropy, the nonprofits that are part of it, and information on how to donate, visit secoponline.org.


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