In times of crisis, communities depend even more upon the services of nonprofit organizations, often while the resources with which organizations provide those services become scarcer. In the face of recent hardships, Poweshiek County nonprofits and public entities may receive supplemental funds through the Nonprofit Emergency Relief Fund grant program.
Since its inception in April, the Nonprofit Emergency Relief Fund (NERF) has given away more than $50,000 in grants to Poweshiek County nonprofits and public entities negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the August derecho.
The Nonprofit Emergency Relief Fund was established in partnership with the Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Foundation, Grinnell College, United Way, Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance, and Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation as a way to support nonprofit organizations in Poweshiek County. Each of the NERF partner organizations contributed startup funds in the spring to establish the emergency relief fund, with a goal of raising and distributing $75,000 by year-end. Individual donors have also supported the fund and we hope that support will continue as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grip our county and beyond.
The NERF fund is managed by the Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation and grants are reviewed and distributed by a committee of 5 representatives from the organizations listed above.
To date, thirty-two grants have been distributed, ranging from $250 to $5,000 each and helping to cover programmatic, operational, and equipment costs of Poweshiek County food pantries, schools, arts programming, equipment for elderly care centers and much more. With NERF funding, organizations have been able to compensate for fundraising opportunities lost due to the pandemic, and meet increased demand for their services.
“Now especially, we need our community organizations, and they need us,” says Barb Baker, Director of Advertising and Community Relations – Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance and a member of the NERF grant review committee.
“Nonprofits are dealing with challenges that they never anticipated, all while being asked to carry our community through crisis, ensuring that all are housed, fed, financially secure, and emotionally and spiritually supported.”
While the NERF fund is being used in the short-term to meet pandemic and derecho-related needs, it will be maintained long-term to address future emerging needs among nonprofit organizations in the county.
Julie Gosselink, President and CEO of the Ahrens Foundation and NERF grant review committee member, hopes that the Nonprofit Emergency Relief Fund will serve as a tool for overall nonprofit sustainability within Poweshiek County.
“The success of the NERF grant thus far has demonstrated the importance of being responsive to the many nonprofits of our county We want to ensure they can continue to carry out their important missions, in the face of whatever challenges may arise in the future.”
All nonprofit 501c3 organizations and public entities such as school districts and cities in Poweshiek County are eligible to apply to the NERF fund. Organization leaders may complete a simple grant application with the link found at www.greaterpcf.org .
Individuals may also support the NERF fund. “Many people inquire about how to help in this time of self-isolation. Sending a gift to NERF is a way to help without leaving home,” said GPCF Executive Director Nicole Brua-Behrens. Tax deductible gifts may be sent to the Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation, P.O. 344, 1510 Penrose St., Grinnell IA 50112, 641-236-5518, attn: NERF or at www.greaterpcf.org . Gifts to NERF should be in addition to, not a substitute for, annual gifts made directly to support individual nonprofit organizations in the county.