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Relief Fund to Help Those Who Help Others

In extraordinary times like these, even the organizations who help those in need may need some form of assistance.

A group of local partner organizations has created the Nonprofit Emergency Relief Fund (NERF) to support local nonprofits that may be experiencing limited resources and unexpected demands due to the COVID-19 crisis. 

The Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Foundation, Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation, Grinnell College, Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company, and Grinnell United Way have partnered to establish a fund that will be used short-term for pandemic-related needs but held long-term to address emerging needs among nonprofit organizations in the county.

The NERF fund will be administered by the Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation, and GPCF Executive Director Nicole Brua-Behrens explains how the fund may assist local 501c3 nonprofit organizations.

“We asked nonprofits across the county what their current needs are. Most organizations are seeing an increase in the public’s need for the services they offer, while also anticipating a decrease in donations due to income disruption. 

“For example, food pantries are experiencing shortages and daycare centers are operating with fewer tuition dollars but still need to maintain staffing levels. So, we know there are needs, whether for operating, programming, or technology, just to get through this time. 

“As county partners, we want to be responsive to these nonprofits so they can continue to carry out their important missions in this time of crisis,” Brua-Behrens said. 

Each of the NERF partner organizations has contributed startup funds to establish the emergency relief fund, with a goal to raise $75,000 by year-end. 

Barb Baker, representing Grinnell Mutual, said that the company chose to commit to the NERF fund because “GMRC leadership recognizes the importance of supporting our local communities, especially during a time of crisis.  In keeping with our core values, we want to assist the organizations and individuals most vulnerable in the current pandemic.  We believe that by collaborating with other local leaders and funders, our resources can be maximized to assist with the local efforts.”

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 form at to explain current circumstances affecting their organization and to request funds to continue their operations and meet the needs of their constituents. 

Applications will be reviewed by a committee of representatives from the NERF partner organizations. Grants will generally range between $500 & $3,000, and will help to cover programmatic and operational costs. 

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,” Brua-Behrens said. 

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.  Gifts to NERF should be in addition to, not a substitute for, annual gifts made directly to support individual nonprofit organizations in the county. 

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