State legislators received a firsthand look at the transformative work of local nonprofits within the region during a tour hosted by Galesburg Community Foundation earlier this month.
“It’s important to take the time to inform legislators about what it is nonprofits are doing, since they make decisions every day that impact our work,” said Galesburg Community Foundation President & CEO Joshua Gibb. “It’s one thing to tell them about that work. It’s another thing to be able to show them.”
Senator Mike Halpin and his aide, Debra Grey-Gibson; Representative Dan Swanson; and Annie Hewitt from the office of Senator Neil Anderson began their day at Galesburg Community Foundation, where they met with some of the members of the Hunger Collaborative. This group of nonprofits was brought together by the Community Foundation to develop strategies to reduce hunger in the region by addressing its root causes.
From there, the group traveled to the new home of the Knox-Galesburg Symphony, where the Community Foundation is offering a match grant to assist the symphony as they build their endowment.
The group then headed west, touring the Community Foundation’s largest Mission Impact Investment, River Bend Food Bank, Galesburg Branch, before ending in Monmouth at Buchanan Center for the Arts. The Center is part of a cohort of nonprofits working with the Community Foundation to build their endowment as they look to expand their usable space and programming. Advisory Board members from the Roseville and Monmouth Community Funds were also on hand to share the good work happening in their towns.
During the tour, legislators had the opportunity to engage directly with the leaders of many regional organizations, gaining a deeper understanding of the challenges they face and the impact of their initiatives on our region. “It’s all about learning more about the community,” said Swanson about the tour. “There’s so much good going on in the community that we got to see today.”
Halpin emphasized that the more they can learn about organizations, the better equipped he and other representatives will be to help them. “Needs change over time, so it’s very good to reconnect and figure out what specifically is going on with organizations at that moment,” said Halpin. “We talked about capital campaigns, physical expansions, challenges with funding, maximizing the efficiency of donations—that’s information that we need to have on a regular basis to help us do our jobs.”
Nonprofits also shared with the legislators where government contracts and grants are overlapping and the difficulty they have when resources are needed but the process to get those resources in place can be burdensome. “I think the legislators saw how, in contrast, the Community Foundation has the ability to make sure dollars are well spent, but it’s not at the same level of burden that state or federal dollars can sometimes be,” said Gibb.
One of the best ways to overcome many of the challenges nonprofits currently face is with proposed legislation to incentivize donors to give gifts of permanent endowment for the benefit of nonprofit organizations. “What the legislators saw today was the result of endowment being well purposed and well positioned within a community to have the greatest amount of impact,” said Gibb. “I wanted them to be able to see endowment at work so when the opportunity to create an endowment tax credit is in front of them, they can advocate for it.”
Gibb said the tour not only showcased the challenges nonprofits navigate but also emphasized the significant impact they have on the lives of residents. “I hope this experience inspires continued collaboration and support from our state legislators to ensure the ongoing success of these vital community initiatives.”