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Evanston foundation makes second $100K challenge grant

The Evanston Community Foundation reports its $100,000 matching funds challenge grants are spurring the groups that have received them to increase their own fundraising efforts.

This year's challenge grant was made to Connections for the Homeless, whose development director,  Sue Loellbach says, "The fact that only new or increased gifts of $5,000 or more qualify for the match is motivating our staff, board, and fundraising volunteers to step up and tell our powerful story.

"We have already raised $50,000 for the matching funds and are halfway to our goal." Loellbach added,

"Connections' program goals for this year are to house 100 people and to find jobs for 100 people. In the current economy, these are very ambitious goals — but the need to achieve them is greater than ever," Loellback says. "This grant will help us to meet these goals and position us for next year, when we will need to replicate these results, while providing ongoing follow-up support for the people we help this year." 

The Partners for the Future program is a donor-advised ECF grant initiative that invests in the capacity of high-performing Evanston organizations ready to develop greater support. Each recipient receives 1:1 matching funds in the range of $50,000 to $100,000 to double donors' new and increased giving.

The initiative is made possible by an extraordinary $500,000 gift to the foundation in 2010. An anonymous donor family, having observed that matching gift challenges had been a powerful factor in the growth of ECF in the past decade, wished to establish a similar incentive program for other organizations special to them.

In 2011, the YWCA Evanston / North Shore was the first organization to receive the challenge grant.

YWCA Evanston / North Shore President and CEO Karen Singer says, "The grant came at a perfect time in the YW's history. During a time of shrinking government funding, it has been instrumental in challenging us to build our major gift capacity by strengthening and expanding our community of donors over $5,000."

"As a result of this grant, we brought in an additional $100,000 to fund our programs, and fulfill our purpose," Singer added.

She said the organization defines its mission as eliminating racism and empowering women, "which we accomplish through our programs to end violence against women and children, provide resources and support that empower women and girls, combat racism in our community and empower youth through sport."

"The Partners for the Future grant catalyzed our Leadership Circle, our community of donors who will help us grow and sustain the important work we do in the community over the coming years," Singer added.

Evanston Community Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer Sara Schastok says the matching challenge grants "provide powerful opportunities for organizations to make their case to their donors. Our donors hope that recipients will use the challenge to strengthen their capacity to fulfill their missions and increase their impact on the community by attracting higher levels of support."

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