50 Years of Philanthropy: The Impact of Grants at CICOA

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In our ongoing celebration of 50 years of service, dedication and impact for older Hoosiers in Central Indiana, we look back at this milestone moment to see a journey filled with challenges, triumphs and the unwavering support of our community. While our golden past is a source of pride, it’s the diamond future we envision that keeps us inspired. I’m thankful for those who have made our mission possible and those who continue to push forward the work of CICOA.

Major Donor Giving: A Trio of Support

In this series of three blogs, I’ll look at different areas of major donor giving that have accelerated our growth and impact over five remarkable decades. When it comes to major donor giving, we recognize the crucial role of individual donors, grants and corporate giving. At the CICOA Foundation, each pillar contributes uniquely to our ability to fulfill our mission.

Last month, I wrote about the impact of corporate giving at the CICOA Foundation. Building on that, today I will focus on the pivotal role of grant-making organizations.

The Impact of Grant Giving

Entities that provide grants can include community, family or corporate foundations, government agencies, charitable trusts, and more. These grant makers provide critical resources and impact many nonprofits on a worldwide scale.

According to the USA Giving Report, giving by foundations experienced a 2.5% growth in 2022, reaching an estimated $105.21 billion. Despite an overall decline in charitable giving from 2021 to 2022, grants remain a significant source of opportunity. For the CICOA Foundation, the past three years have seen grants account for an impressive 71% of total giving, underlining their importance in fulfilling our fundraising and program funding needs.

Understanding Grants: Key Points

Let’s look deeper into the essential aspects of grants, shedding light on their nuanced nature and the impact they have on our organization’s funding landscape:

  • Limited Focus: Grants are earmarked for specific purposes, projects or programs, providing targeted support rather than a broad spectrum of needs. For example, CICOA has received grants from Meals on Wheels America and PetSmart Charities for our Pet Connect program and a grant from the Hoover Family Foundation for home modifications. This specificity allows grantors to direct their resources towards initiatives aligned with their mission, maximizing the impact of their contributions.
  • Mission-Centric: The mission of the grant-making organization serves as the guiding compass in their decision-making process. It’s not merely about the alignment of projects; it’s a shared commitment to broader goals and values. This emphasis on mission alignment ensures that the grantor’s resources are strategically deployed to create meaningful and lasting change.
  • Structured Process: The journey from grant application to fund allocation follows a structured process. Grant applications undergo meticulous scrutiny by governing bodies within the grant-making organization, ensuring that the funds are allocated to projects that align closely with their mission and values. Reporting requirements post-award further foster transparency and accountability, creating a symbiotic relationship between grantee and grantor.
  • Relational Success: Beyond paperwork and proposals, successful grant applications often hinge on the relational aspects of the process. Understanding the dynamics of the grant-making organization, building connections with key stakeholders and tailoring proposals to reflect these relationships can significantly enhance the chances of a successful outcome. In the world of grants, relationships matter as much as the project itself.
  • One Part of the Whole: While grants play a pivotal role in our fundraising efforts, it’s crucial to recognize that they are not a one-size-fits-all solution. They complement other philanthropic gifts, such as individual donations and corporate sponsorships, forming a holistic approach to financial sustainability.

Your Role in Our Grant Story

Consider this: relationships matter. When I co-taught a master’s class on grant writing, we emphasized the value of getting to know the grant-making organization and building meaningful connections with the people there. Knowing someone at the organization can significantly increase the likelihood of a grant application being reviewed and accepted!

You, our loyal supporters, can play a vital role in making these connections, learning more about grant opportunities, and even introducing us to leaders at grant-making organizations.

I have witnessed the power of a donor’s ability to open doors. A few years back, I worked with a donor to make connections in his city, and together, we met with key leaders of a grant-making organization. Not only did this donor facilitate introductions, but he also shared his personal testimony of the impact of our organization’s mission, which no doubt contributed to us successfully receiving the grant.

Missional alignment is key. When it comes to any grant-making organization – from multibillion-dollar foundations to smaller community-based ones – true alignment comes from shared missions. As dedicated donors, your insights and connections can help us navigate potential partnerships that align with CICOA’s mission and programs.

Our Gratitude for 50 Years

In our 50th anniversary celebration year, every grant is a testament to the trust placed in us by the grantor. We express heartfelt thanks to the foundations, family foundations and trusts in our community. Your generosity empowers the CICOA Foundation to continue fulfilling our critical mission, making a positive impact on the lives of older Hoosiers in Central Indiana. We’re humbled and honored by your unwavering support, and we look forward to the continued journey ahead.


Share a grant opportunity with us

Stephen Gerber
Stephen Gerber

Stephen Gerber brings experience in pastoral ministry, nonprofit management and fundraising team leadership to his role as CICOA’s chief development officer. Stephen is responsible for the agency’s overall fundraising strategy, leading annual campaigns, major gifts, planned giving, grants and special events.

He holds designations for Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) and Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy® (CAP®), and the executive certificate in religious fundraising. Stephen earned a bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Temple University, a master’s degree from Grace Theological Seminary and a master’s in business administration from the University of Phoenix.

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