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Community Foundation sets record for contributions for charitable giving in 2021


The Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines received a record $92.4 million in gifts for charitable giving in 2021, the organization announced today.

According to foundation officials, that helped push the foundation’s assets it administers to more than $875 million.

Kristi Knous, the foundation’s president, said the amount contributed to the foundation for charitable giving reinforces the level of generosity seen in the Greater Des Moines region.

“We are a very generous, giving and caring community,” she said. “I think we feel that better-together spirit, but this exemplifies it. This tells the story truly of a generosity that our community’s donors are embracing to invest in charitable giving funds, invest in nonprofit organizations, sometimes in the long term, sometimes putting it into a fund now and granting it out over the next couple of years. I think it just absolutely tells the story of the generosity of Iowans when we’re looking at this sort of charitable giving number in one year’s period.”

The foundation’s previous record for charitable gifts received was $86.6 million.

“It’s really just unbelievable for a community of our size to see that sort of generosity and love that our state’s donors and our community are appreciating and valuing the Community Foundation network, and our ability to meet them where they are and be a solution provider for their charitable interests,” Knous said.

The foundation also made $51.9 million in grants to more than 2,500 charitable causes last year. Its reach extends beyond Des Moines into the 40 counties it serves statewide.

“I love that we have this backbone infrastructure for charitable giving across the state of Iowa through the county endowment fund program,” she said. “It’s giving Iowans the opportunity to give back to schools and nonprofit organizations that help their family thrive. It’s about so much more than just Greater Des Moines even in the work that we do every day.”

Knous, who will be celebrating her 20th anniversary with the foundation on April 1, said she’s enjoyed watching the foundation grow during her tenure, starting when the foundation had assets of about $30 million to the record amount in 2021.

She attributed that growth to the growth of Des Moines and the region, and the planning, thoughtfulness and willingness of leaders to sit around the table together to set goals and find solutions.

“I truly believe one of the secrets to our success is that we are a very planful community,” Knous said. “We can go back and reflect on the Vision Plan, the Major Projects Task Force and their work, the Project Destiny plan, and now most recently Capital Crossroads over the last decade. We have a plan and we come around that plan. We set the table. We sit around the table. We make the table bigger and we get all voices around the table and we carry out the work.

“This community absolutely believes we can do it, and we do,” she said. “I truly believe having a vision plan and working the plan is a secret to our success.”

Knous said a highlight of the past year was the foundation’s board members immediately knowing they needed to meet the community where they are.

“Yes, that is about meeting donors where they are, but it was also really about meeting our nonprofit sector where it needed us to meet them,” she said. “That pivot happened with our grant-making programs.”

Other facts from the report show that 242 new charitable giving funds were established, and the foundation facilitated training and conversations for nearly 1,000 nonprofit staff and board members.

What does 2022 hold for the foundation?

Knous said it will be relaunching its leadership grants, and will continue the strategic collaboration grants to help nonprofits that are exploring consolidation, and its capacity-building grants.

The foundation is also looking forward to the completion of its new campus and C3 center that will serve as a hub for the region’s nonprofit community.

The name is derived from the 501(c)(3) tax status of nonprofits, but also stands for connection, collaboration and community.

The foundation purchased the former Tri-City Electric building at 1910 Ingersoll Ave, directly to the north of the foundation’s headquarters in the Finkbine Mansion on Grand Avenue.

An outdoor plaza will be built in the space between the two buildings, where a parking lot currently sits.

The plan is to add a second story to the former Tri-City Electric building, creating 12,456 square feet for meetings, training, office space for nonprofits, and more room for the Community Foundation’s accounting team.

The first floor will feature a board and community meeting space and a training area. The second floor will feature a conference room and office space that will serve nonprofit tenants.

Knous said the project is on track for completion this fall.

She said that the project is in the bidding process now, and that “we’re trying to stay on track as much as we can with what’s under our control in terms of timing.”

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