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Philanthropy has the power to transform communities, and the special places, events and nonprofit organizations that elevate our lives. Every day, ordinary Iowans share extraordinary gifts of time and money to make our towns more attractive, caring and welcoming.

Iowa is celebrating the 15th anniversary of one of the nation’s most heralded philanthropic partnerships. This celebration is possible because Iowa leaders, legislators and the governor came together to pass and implement legislation known as the County Endowment Fund and the Endow Iowa Tax Credit Program. 

Supporting communities

The County Endowment Fund and the Endow Iowa Tax Credit Program were enacted to ignite community foundation building and to be a catalyst for bringing the community foundation movement to small communities and rural counties.

Each year, 84 counties without a state-licensed gaming venue receive a small portion of gaming tax revenues that are deposited in a countywide community foundation. In addition, Iowa taxpayers are allowed a special 25 percent tax credit for gifts of a permanent endowment to a qualified community foundation. 

Thanks to community-minded leaders and generous citizens, these initiatives are positively changing the lives of Iowans.

Today, more than $900 million has been raised to support permanent community foundation endowments across the state. Over 4,385 nonprofits and charitable causes are supported through countywide community foundations. Gifts and grants from community foundations are supporting charitable causes that advance economic development, education, health and recreation, arts and culture, and more. Over 28,000 grants totaling over $100 million have been invested in nonprofits across the state with the encouragement of these programs

Involving cooperatives

Iowa Area Development Group (IADG), which was founded by Iowa’s rural electric cooperatives, is a proud leader in Iowa’s community foundation development efforts. IADG created the first and only statewide community foundation in 2003. Contributions from IADG sponsors, gifts from individuals, and grants from institutions provided the seed money to help establish the IADG Community Foundation. The early efforts of the Foundation were aimed at providing education, training and inspiration to get community foundations up and running across the state. The Foundation has awarded more than $500,000 in grants, and its assets have grown to nearly $2 million. In 2016, IADG Community Foundation announced the “Partners in Progress” grant program. It is designed to help implement and share programs and initiatives that are new, innovative and ready for replication by its rural utility partners and others.

IADG encourages Iowa’s electric cooperatives and their members to engage with community foundations across the state. These organizations enable charitable giving, foster the transfer of wealth, infuse grant money into communities and allow Iowans to give back to cities and the state. 

To learn more about the IADG Community Foundation or community foundations in your area, visit or call 800-888-4743.

Kay Snyder is the director of marketing and communications for the Iowa Area Development Group.

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