Very rarely does a foundation grant more money than a nonprofit has requested. But that has happened – TWICE in the last year – to the Monument Senior Citizens Association.
On the surface, the Monument Senior Center project was similar to many others.
The kitchen appliances bought used 25 years ago were wearing out and getting harder and harder to MacGyver together. The building needed some renovation to make the entrance and bathrooms ADA compliant. And on the “wouldn’t it be nice” list was a cement floor, electricity and shelving in the storage building.
So what made the difference to funders?
Passionate volunteers was one factor. Judy Harris loves fundraising and tirelessly organized rummage sales, auctions, and established an annual Buckaroo Harvest Festival. Elaine Eisenbraun researched foundations and wrote grants. The entire board was on hand to prepare three meals a day for four days for hundreds of visitors during the 2017 Eclipse to raise money for the project.
Strong local support also made a difference. Alongside the volunteers was a community who stepped up and offered whatever they could: salmon, elk and potatoes for the Harvest Festival dinner, donations and bidders for the auctions, personal contacts with out-of-town funders and donors.
Good planning and budgeting was important, too. Jan Ensign set up a solid accounting system and diligently tracked every dollar contributed and spent. Projects often were completed under budget because of unexpected inkind donations of labor and material from local electricians, plumbers and contractors. Whenever money from a grant was left over, she contacted the foundation. Each time, the response was, “What else do you need? Put the extra money toward that.”
Foundations love to support a community working together for the greater good. The Monument Senior Center not only hosts senior meals. It is also home to the local library and provides meeting space for 4-H clubs and sewing groups, city council and soil and water committees, EMT trainings, monthly medical and foot clinics, birthday parties, weddings, funerals, class reunions, bingo and bunco. Thanks to a lot of people, the center will still be there when the kids coming now for 4-H meetings will be socializing there at senior meals.