By JOY BROWN
The Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation provided $5.5 million in grants and gifts last year, a $1.3 million increase from 2012.
It also tried new marketing and educational approaches that it deemed successful, and received national recognition for its operations.
One of its largest endeavors was providing $300,000 in funding for the Marathon Center for the Performing Arts, which will incorporate the former Central Middle School auditorium on West Main Cross Street. The foundation awarded $200,000 toward renovation and construction costs, and $100,000 for a permanent endowment.
“The performing arts center is something we put a lot of time and effort into,” said foundation President Kathy Kreuchauf.
In addition to the $300,000 in funding, the foundation accepted another $800,000 in gifts for the arts center, which were “passed through to that campaign. We provided fiscal sponsorship, which is something that we do very rarely,” she said.
The foundation also provided $85,000 toward the Findlay-Hancock County Alliance’s Main Street Program, which allowed for the hiring of coordinator Maria Reza. She has been working on promoting, branding and strengthening downtown relationships to make the area more inviting.
Habitat for Humanity Findlay/Hancock County received a $64,473 grant for a “Critical Repair Program” in the county that is providing home repairs and modifications for veterans, seniors, single parents and disabled homeowners. The work is focusing on projects that address safety, health, energy efficiency and accessibility.
The Schneider Circle, which focuses on strengthening nonprofit agencies, is now in its third year. Last year, it provided $85,500 toward Six Disciplines coaching for six agencies.
Handbags that Help, a women’s giving group, had 149 people join in 2013. It has granted $262,100 since it began, and will potentially give more than $28,000 in 2014.
Also in 2013, the foundation launched a scholarship page and a new online giving website, and its overall social media campaign was listed in FundRaising Success Magazine’s 2013 gold awards.
The giving website “really highlights the funds and it’s easy to navigate,” said Lisa Houck, communications officer.
“Our Facebook presence increased by 50 percent. We went from 900 to 1,500 ‘friends,'” Kreuchauf said. “We’re getting a lot more visible and we think it’s important to do that. Our current donors know what we’re about, but this gets the next generation very active. It provides opportunities for them to get to know us.”
Videos have become a large part of the foundation’s visibility and educational strategy, too.
Kreuchauf said an animated video that explains what the foundation does, and a video about L. Dale Dorney, who provided the initial $5 million that started the foundation, were big hits.
Website visitors also have viewed a series of videos focused on last year’s “Philanthropy Through the Generations” concentration.
This year’s focus will be “Women in Philanthropy,” Kreuchauf said.
“There is a lot of research that tells us women give differently than men,” Kreuchauf said. “Because women tend to live longer, it’s often the women who make the final decisions about the estate and legacy for a family.”
More videos will feature the impact certain women have had regionally through their bequests. Events are planned to recognize past and current female givers, Kreuchauf said.
“We’re continuing to look for ways to connect with our donors, to thank them and keep them informed,” Kreuchauf said.
Storytelling will continue to be a component, with “where are they now” videos showcasing scholarship recipients’ progress.
“We’re hoping to increase the number of scholarship funds we have for nontraditional students,” including those who are interested in gaining more technical skills and older students returning to college, Kreuchauf said.
The foundation continues to oversee The Family Center on Blanchard Street, which houses charities and other service organizations. It is nearly full, Kreuchauf said. The small space that remains unoccupied is being used to store interview clothing for people who can’t afford to buy their own, she said.
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