Community Foundation Issues Matching $1-for-$2 Challenge Grants

The Wabash Valley Community Foundation has issued challenge grants to two downtown cultural nonprofit organizations struggling from the financial implications of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The grants, $70,000 to the Terre Haute Children’s Museum and $15,000 to the Sheldon Swope Art Museum, require each entity to raise $2 from the general public to receive $1 from the Community Foundation, up to the amount of its grant. Both entities have until January 31, 2021, to complete their fundraising.

Given the community’s investment and commitment to Downtown Terre Haute through the renovated Hulman Center, new Convention Center and the “See You In Terre Haute 2025 Community Plan”, the Community Foundation selected these two museums due to their presence as Terre Haute attractions, each playing an essential role in a thriving downtown and overall vibrant community.

“This truly is a game changer for us as we enter into the holiday season,” said Susan Turner, Executive Director at the Terre Haute Children’s Museum. “It’s no secret the Children’s Museum has struggled this year, as most museums have. It’s so important we have strong organizations such as museums in our community as it adds to the quality of life for Terre Haute and the Wabash Valley region. I’m blown away by the Community Foundation’s generosity to step up and partner with us at truly one of the most critical times in our history.”

“This incentive from the Community Foundation comes at exactly the right time as we seek participation in Sheldon’s Legacy, our annual fund request,” added Fred J. Nation, Executive Director at the Sheldon Swope Art Museum.  “We have lost both of our scheduled fundraisers since COVID-19 started, and this will give supporters of the Swope an extra opportunity to replace those lost funds. The Community Foundation continues to be a lifesaver for those who serve our community.”

While nonprofits such as the Children’s Museum and the Swope have since reopened to the public, these organizations, like many others, are operating without the support of budgeted revenue-generating events. In addition, social distancing measures have resulted in a significant decrease in attendance, as well as added expenses to implement safety protocols to conform to CDC guidelines. This prompted the Community Foundation to issue the $1-for-$2 matching opportunity to both organizations. In doing so, the Community Foundation hopes individuals will take advantage of year-end giving and help these organizations meet their respective matches.

“This is a critical moment for our Wabash Valley nonprofit organizations,” said Beth Tevlin, Executive Director at the Community Foundation. “Without a significant infusion of relief funding, organizations may need to entirely suspend operations or permanently close their doors.”

To determine how it might be able to help ease the financial pressure, the Community Foundation issued a revenue loss survey to Vigo County nonprofit organizations. The survey responses showed staggering deficits resulting from the cancellations, with losses ranging from $1,500 to $320,000. Most notably, organizations reported a dramatic reduction in private funding due to cancelled fundraisers and programs, loss of earned income revenue and a decrease in individual donations has resulted in layoffs, program delivery limitations and the risk of closure.

“Fundraising efforts are vital to nonprofit operating budgets, and the ongoing effects of the pandemic have put the future of these organizations at a severe risk,” explained Kelli Miller, Program Director at the Community Foundation. “With the goal of creating meaningful impact within the boundaries of the remaining COVID-19 funding set aside earlier this year, it became evident that spreading the remaining $85,000 among many organizations would not at all meet that goal. It is likely the Community Foundation will revisit the needs of nonprofits after the first of the year and, based upon the available grant dollars, determine how the Community Foundation can best support local nonprofit organizations.”

This matching challenge grant opportunity provided to the Children’s Museum and the Swope is the latest response from the Community Foundation to address the challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this year, the Community Foundation implemented a Rapid Response grant process available for eligible entities in Clay, Sullivan and Vigo counties. To date, nearly $90,000 has been awarded to entities on the front lines helping our communities. The Community Foundation also partnered with the United Way of the Wabash Valley to coordinate a response to support immediate economic stability through the establishment of the UW/CF COVID-19 Relief Fund. The Fund, in its first tier, granted over $612,400 to community-based organizations best positioned to meet the needs resulting from the pandemic.

For more information, please contact Beth Tevlin at 812.232.2234.