The Quad Cities Community Foundation today announced that it has surpassed $100 million in grants since its founding in 1964.
Training a powerful lens on the Community Foundation’s mission to transform the region through generosity of donors, the milestone “emphasizes the sheer scale of the organization’s efforts to support the most pressing needs and promising opportunities in the community,” according to a Wednesday release.
It also reflects the many ways in which the Community Foundation partners with donors and nonprofits to maximize the impact of community resources, like competitive grant programs, individual and corporate charitable funds, nonprofit endowment funds, and geographic affiliate funds.
According to Kelly Thompson, vice president of grantmaking and community initiatives, the Community Foundation’s efforts have only grown over time, with more donors making new gifts and establishing funds and an investment strategy designed to maximize returns and reduce fees. This past year, the Community Foundation made its largest board-directed grant ever — a three-year, $350,000 Transformation Grant to support the Quad Cities Housing Council’s vision for affordable housing in the region.
“The Community Foundation is the place where our community comes together to achieve things no one person or organization could achieve alone,” Thompson said in the release. “We’ve always believed that, and reaching this major milestone is a wonderful way to show it.”
The grant that carried the Community Foundation across the $100-million mark came from the Marsha and Don Pedersen Endowment for Marriage and Family Counseling of Rock Island.
One of several endowment funds the Pedersen family established at the Community Foundation in the mid-2000s to support their most beloved local nonprofits, the fund’s principal grows through investments while a portion of earnings goes to Marriage and Family Counseling as an unrestricted grant each year. Marsha passed away in 2020, and after Don Pedersen’s lifetime, a planned gift through the couple’s estate will increase the size of the fund and that annual grant, supporting the agency’s work in perpetuity.
“Sometimes a significant donor to an organization moves out of town or passes away, and that funding source suddenly dries up,” Pedersen said. “Establishing endowments helps bridge those gaps for the nonprofits that count on you.”
“Don and Marsha’s gifts are a perfect example of what a great tool endowments are for supporting the nonprofits and causes you care about in truly effective ways,” said Anne Calder, vice president of development at the Community Foundation. “We’re honored to have the privilege of nurturing and stewarding lasting gifts from thousands of donors like the Pedersens—for our community.”
For Pedersen, his and Marsha’s long history with the agency is part of what makes the momentous grant so special, the release said. Starting off as clients after the birth of their second child, the Pedersens soon formed close bonds with the staff, and by the 1980s, Marsha joined the board, serving as president from 1981 to 1982.
“Marsha’s enthusiasm was ongoing and contagious,” said Bill Hiebert, Marriage and Family Counseling’s executive director. Over his more than 50 years with the agency, Hiebert has seen his share of changes, from gender norms and family dynamics to the local nonprofit funding landscape. “Marsha was a big supporter of the idea that we needed to raise more money,” he recalled, explaining she was responsible for several fundraising and community education initiatives, on top of her and Don’s financial support of the agency.
“This milestone shows just part of what can happen when even one person takes it upon themselves to find ways of supporting the work of a nonprofit,” said Hiebert. “It also demonstrates that there are funding sources out there that assist with ongoing programs and operations—and that’s so important.”
“Though this exciting milestone represents one moment in time, it’s a product of our entire 57-year history and all the donors, organizations, and staff and board members who have shared their commitment to generosity and our community with us,” said Calder.
“It’s also a glimpse into our community’s future,” Thompson added. “If we can achieve this, just think what else we can do together.”