American writer and University of Iowa alum Jay Walljasper has often written and spoken about "commons" — things we inherit or create jointly and last for generations. He says commons are resources that must be actively protected and managed for the good of all. All of us have a responsibility to shield these important assets for generations to come.
Since launching in 2000, the Community Foundation of Johnson County has been doing just that. The organization has funded nearly $10 million in grants to champion local nonprofit projects and programs that benefit our residents. We couldn't have done this without donors' visionary backing and their concern for our shared future.
Community philanthropy isn't about one person giving thousands of dollars. It's connecting forward-thinking individuals with causes you believe will make a difference. It is the foundation's partnerships with the community and donors that have boosted support through the years for local organizations.
The foundation's own endowment fund, recently renamed "Growing Better Together," provides annual funding to local nonprofits caring for our collective futures. Growing Better Together combines individual donations to make an impact in annual grants that are awarded back to the community. No gift is too small to ease immediate needs and the needs for generations to come.
Your Growing Better Together donations share community resources to provide opportunities to aid countless others. This year, combined funds support services like youth programs such as the Iowa Youth Writing Project (Play with Your Words), Dream Center (I-Belong Youth Leadership) and Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Johnson County (Kappa Kids Mentoring).
The foundation will work closely with you to inspire and develop programs and projects that match your personal interests and tax planning needs. We can help you integrate charitable giving for estate and financial plans, establish funds to facilitate giving and provide options to give anonymously if you choose.
We are a local organization established by and for the Johnson County community and have broad knowledge of community issues and needs. We are deeply rooted in the community and can direct gift dollars to areas that will make a lasting difference. Our all-volunteer, 30-member Grant Review Committee is equally committed to vet grant requests and match with the necessary funds that provide much-needed services for residents.
The foundation fulfills its mission to serve the Johnson County community by growing endowments and distributing funds for the greater community good. We grow our assets through contributions from many donors, and help make a positive local change by offering a variety of tools to help individuals, families, businesses and nonprofit organizations achieve their charitable goals to do good work in their communities that will last forever.
Won't you join us, and share the responsibility of a better tomorrow. Make a gift to Growing Better Together today?
Mike Stoffregen is executive director of the Community Foundation of Johnson County.
This guest opinion appeared in the Press-Citizen on Oct. 26, 2016