Grants power community impact


The Community Foundation of Jackson County encourages philanthropy and grants money to help programs and the people they serve in our community.

When I started with the foundation in 2014, my predecessor, Bud Walther, assured me that I’d soon learn giving away money isn’t as easy as it looks. My eyebrows raised and quite possibly my left eye squinted a bit, perhaps betraying that I wasn’t quite sure how that could be true.

But Bud was right. Giving away money — at least wisely — isn’t easy.

Nevertheless, the foundation staff and our 20-member board of directors, with a help from other community volunteers, do our best to prudently administer more than $11 million in assets to generate earnings that are granted for scholarships, classroom education grants, community impact grants and our fall grant cycle.

Those grants make an impact across Jackson County. Last year, for instance, fall grants were awarded in Brownstown, Crothersville, Pershing Township, Medora and Seymour.

Work on this year’s fall grant cycle is under way with a July 31 application deadline. Over the next several weeks, foundation Vice President Sue Smith and I will answer questions, review drafts and accept applications. Forms are available online at

Once the deadline passes and Sue reviews them for compliance (all applications must involve 501(c)3 organizations or governmental units), our grant committee, which consists of board members and other volunteers, will conduct site visits to investigate the requests and their need.

Two factors can play a large role in determining grants: whether a nonprofit’s board is engaged financially and whether other funding sources are being pursued for the project. We like to see board members with skin in the game, and we support the practice of bringing funding partners together to deal with community issues and needs, much as the foundation is working with Jackson County United Way to meet the needs of nonprofits during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Once the site visits are completed, the foundation staff and grant committee convene to determine which applications will be recommended for grants. This will take place in September, and our board will consider the recommendations in October. While we’d like to say every organization that applies receives funding, we can’t.

Last year, for example, the foundation approved 18 fall grants totaling $54,924 but denied nine others. There weren’t enough grant dollars. Earnings from all of the foundation’s unrestricted funds, field of interest funds as well as the Schneider Nursery Inc. Unrestricted Community Fund and the Orville and Mary Schnitker Memorial Endowment financed those grants.

This year, the board approved a granting rate that will pay out more than $540,000 in grants from scholarship funds, donor advised funds, designated funds, agency funds and unrestricted funds. That’s slightly up from $437,000 approved for 2019.

While we always hope to see the amount of earnings available for scholarships and other grant program bump up each year, we are guessing that earnings could be off this year, partly due in great part to the COVID-19 pandemic. Market reaction caused stock prices to tumble in March. And it appears some donors are cautiously weighing gifts this year because of the economic and pandemic uncertainties.

Still, we expect to see positive impact in our available granting dollars in the next couple of years because of our success in bringing in more than $750,000 in gifts and pledges in 2018 through the Lilly Endowment GIFT VII match program.

And your new gifts, of course, can help make those grant dollars grow as well. If you would like to donate to any of the foundation’s endowed funds or to create your own endowed fund, call me at 812-523-4483 to set up an appointment. We can discuss your interest in helping others in the community and how to make your assistance a reality.

Your endowed gifts can, through prudent investment, generate earnings for scholarships, classroom education grants, fall grants, agency grants and community impact grants to help people across Jackson County. Over and over, year after year. Forever.

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You can make gifts to the community funds and field of interest funds administered by the Community Foundation of Jackson County. They include:

Community funds

Aisin U.S.A. Mfg., Inc. Endowment; The Donn Bishop Memorial Endowment; The Don Bollinger Memorial Fund; Jackson County Community Endowment; Jackson County Unrestricted Endowment; Bob and Kate Hall Endowment; Thomas J. Lantz/Montgomery, Elsner and Pardieck Community Endowment; Psi Iota Xi Sorority, Alpha Beta Chapter Endowment; Potts Family Endowment; SIHO Insurance Services Community Endowment; Virginia G. Otto Endowment Fund; Irwin Union Bank and Trust Co. Fund; the Larry and Joanne Sunbury Community Endowment; the Michael and Ardith Fleetwood Unrestricted Endowment; the Nehrt Family Community Endowment; the Mary Evelyn Mellencamp Memorial Fund; the Mark and Sue Smith Community Endowment; Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie 655 Community Fund; the Schneider Nursery Community Endowment; the John and Kay Beatty Community Endowment; and the Seymour Oktoberfest Community Endowment.

Field of interest funds

The Community Foundation of Jackson County administers the following field of interest funds: The Cartwright Endowment for the Arts (performing arts); Granger H. and Ruth M. Smith Drug Abuse Prevention Fund; Carl Hemmer Memorial Fund (performing arts); Tri Kappa Endowment (charity, culture and education); The Shelter Fund (homelessness); Nippon Steel Pipe America Inc. Charitable Endowment for Education; and the Jackson County Youth Foundation.


Dan Davis is President & CEO of the Community Foundation of Jackson County. The foundation administers more than 200 funds with assets of more than $11 million. For information about how you can make a donation to any of the funds administered by the Foundation or how you might start a new fund, call 812-523-4483 or send an email to Dan Davis at [email protected].

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