Harry Stevens is a freelance reporter covering climate change, corporate social responsibility, social enterprise, and sustainable finance. Harry has contributed to several media outlets, including Justmeans, GreenBiz, SocialEarth, and Sustainablog. You can follow Harry on Twitter: @Harry_Stevens...
Nonprofits Help Develop $600,000 Grant Program
Nonprofits from around the United States recently gathered in Chicago to develop a $600,000 grant program to make their organizations more effective.
The summit, part of the Allstate Foundation's sixtieth anniversary celebration, convened more than 100 leaders from nonprofits that address any of three focus areas: financial empowerment for domestic violence survivors, teen safe driving and safe and vital communities.
"Our summit brought together a diverse set of leaders from national and local nonprofits to discuss trends in the nonprofit sector and develop solutions to many of the social crises facing our nation," said Vicky Dinges, Allstate's vice president of public social responsibility.
At the culmination of the summit, attendees provided staff of the Allstate Foundation with information about the resources they needed to improve their organizations.
"This conversation and tremendous need is what spurred The Allstate Foundation to create this $600,000 grant program, designed to give these 14 organizations the funds needed to improve delivery of services to thousands of Americans," said Dinges.
Charitable giving across the United States is yet to recover from the recession, with total giving 11 percent below giving in 2007, according to an annual report from the Giving USA Foundation and the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. Donations grew by around one percent in inflation-adjusted dollars in 2011 compared with a 1.7 percent bump in GDP, suggesting that Americans are still tight with their wallets despite the gradual economic recovery.
"America's charities have been traveling down a very rocky road in recent years," said James Yunker, chairman of the Giving USA Foundation. In a similar vein, Patrick M. Rooney of the Center on Philanthropy said, "In the past two years charitable giving has experienced its second slowest recovery following any recession since 1971."
With this in mind, the Allstate Foundation has sought to incubate some of the most deserving nonprofits. Among these was Bridge Communities, a Glen Elyn, Ill.-based organization that provides transitional housing and programs to assist homeless families, will use funding to develop a new cloud-based system to enhance their client management services. Another, the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADVP), which received a grant to focus on board and executive leadership training.
"For more than two years, the Allstate Foundation on has supported our Economic Empowerment work for victims and survivors of domestic violence," said Zulma Garcia, director of policy at the RICADV. "And we are so excited to see the first cohort of graduates from the Fresh Start collaborative that Allstate most recently helped to fund."
The Allstate Foundation awarded grants from between $20,000 and $60,000 to 14 organizations across the country. A complete list of the organizations receiving grants can be found at www.allstatefoundation.org/60th-Anniversary-Special-Grants.
"It's rare for a corporate foundation to provide funds for 'overhead costs' such as leadership training, developing social media expertise, or building digital infrastructure," said Dinges. "However, by providing these funds, our partners will be stronger and better advocates in their communities and able to supply their clients with more strategic services."
Founded in 1952, the Foundation has invested nearly $300 million in a variety of community organizations and services across the country. In October of last year, the Allstate Foundation gave $250,000 to fund a new program to tackle violent crime in Chicago.
Image credit: Howard Lake, Flickr