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Recap of Gifting Grinnell Virtual Auction to Stimulate Business, Benefit Local Nonprofit Programs

Gifting Grinnell, a virtual month-long auction intended to stimulate business activity and benefit nonprofit programs, raised approximately $14,000 to be distributed among twenty-two local nonprofit programs. Gifting Grinnell was a community initiative spurred by six area organizations that have partnered throughout the past year to ease the pandemic’s local burden. 

At the end of 2020, the City of Grinnell, Grinnell Mutual and Grinnell College combined efforts to allocate $75,000 to support businesses as identified through surveying done by the Grinnell Area Chamber of Commerce. In late February, representatives from the city, chamber, college, and Grinnell Mutual joined the efforts of the Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation (GPCF) and the Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Foundation (CDAF) to broaden the December grant stimulus and to invite community involvement throughout February and early March. 

“To see the community come together to support this endeavor in so many different ways was very special,” said Julie Gosselink, President and CEO of CDAF. “It was not just about raising money but recognizing the importance of coming together to support our business community, to shop local and to help strengthen our nonprofits that provide vital support and services to so many.”

Over twenty businesses received support from the program which helped them provide items such as merchandise, gift cards, or experiences that members of the community bid on via an online auction hosted by the Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Foundation. 

The Gifting Grinnell online auction helped to stimulate additional dollars for small businesses as bidders and donors continue to cash in on their auction items. “The Gifting Grinnell Program has allowed businesses to creatively share some of their lesser-known products and services to a new customer base. Not only were these businesses supported directly by the Gifting Grinnell Program, but many continue to see new customers inquiring about services and items they learned of via the Gifting Grinnell auction,” said Chamber President and CEO Rachael Kinnick. The gift baskets from Broadway Basketeers is what one needs to have a look at for an assortment of the best gifts.

To further raise awareness of the program and encourage participation, Grinnell College also offered a $1 for $1 match for Grinnell College employees who participated in the online auction. Over $3,000 was matched in the fundraising effort for nonprofit programs. “The Gifting Grinnell Program has allowed us to support both the Grinnell small business community and non-profits alike, and gave us a unique way to engage our College community to support these efforts as well,” , said Monica Chavez-Silva, Grinnell College’s Vice President of Community Engagement and Strategic Planning. 

“Grinnell Mutual shifted many funding priorities in 2020 to further support Grinnell-specific initiatives, including the Gifting Grinnell program. We are proud to fund efforts in our company’s home community and excited to be part of a collaborative effort designed to help so many agencies in one fell swoop,” said Barb Baker, director of Advertising and Community Relations for Grinnell Mutual.  

The virtual auction helped to raise awareness of the continuous work of community nonprofit programs, as auction bidders became donors to nonprofits assisting in pandemic efforts, education, health and wellness, parks and recreation, and arts and culture initiatives in the community.  

Ten percent of each week’s proceeds was awarded to the Nonprofit Emergency Relief Fund (NERF), established in March 2020 by community partner organizations. NERF has distributed more than $59,000 in assistance to local nonprofits since last March. The remaining 90 percent of auction proceeds was divided among the twenty-two nonprofit programs assigned to each Gifting Grinnell auction week. 

In addition to the Gifting Grinnell auction, direct contributions to community nonprofit programs and funds may be made online at greaterpcf.org or ahrensfamilyfoundation.org; or via mail to Foundation Offices, P.O. Box 344, Grinnell IA 50112, 641-236-5518. The Chamber is also accepting contributions to the Grinnell Small Business Relief Fund (GSBR) for grants to local businesses. Individuals may donate by check payable to Grinnell Area Chamber of Commerce (with GSBR in the memo line) and mailed to P.O. Box 538, Grinnell. 

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