Youngstown Foundation Ups the Ante for Giving

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – For local nonprofits, every dollar is critical, since the lifeblood of these agencies often depend on the financial support of the community.

It’s in this spirit that the 100 year-old Youngstown Foundation is upping the ante for giving announcing Monday that it would double its match through the Support Fund to donations toward participating nonprofits from 5% to 10% indefinitely.

“Since its establishment, we’ve awarded over $30 million to local organizations,” Jan Strasfeld, executive director of the Youngstown Foundation, said of the Support Fund. “The nonprofit community is so critical – they address all the major needs in our community and quality of life issues across the board.”

Community and business leaders filled Overture Restaurant yesterday at the DeYor Performing Arts Center for the announcement, 100 years to the day on which the Youngstown Foundation was established. It is the fourth oldest such fund in the country, ranked in the top 100 nationally, and boasts a funding base of $120 million. Last year, the Foundation awarded $7.7 million in grants.

The Foundation added the Support Fund program 35 years ago. Since its inception, the Support Fund has awarded $35 million in matching funds toward charitable agencies.

About 70 nonprofits are currently enrolled in the Support Fund initiative, Strasfeld said. The idea is to encourage philanthropy within the community by pledging a 10% match to donations between $100 and $5,000 to those charitable organizations that participate.

The increase in matching funds allows more resources for these organizations to carry on with their mission, while also sending a message to the donor community that their dollars are being put to good use, Strasfeld said.

Donations to these charities of up to $5,000 per agency, per year will be met with a 10% match from the program, Strasfeld noted. That means a donor can contribute to several different agencies through the Support Fund and still expect to receive a 10% match.

“If you wanted to donate $5,000 to 10 different agencies in one year, you can do that,” she said. “There’s a huge opportunity to generate more income for our nonprofits.”

Such an increase in matching funds is invaluable to those agencies that rely heavily on community support.

“Going from 5% to 10% is significant,” said Brigid Kennedy, president of Ursuline Ministries, which oversees Beatitude House and the HIV/Aids Ministry, both of which are participants in the Support Fund.

She said 20% of the Ministries’ total donations come from the Support Fund each year, so doubling the matching amount presents more opportunities for growth and outreach. “Many supporters have increased their donations over time in order to take advantage of the match. We expect that to improve.”

Beatitude House, which provides housing, case management and support services to homeless women and their children, low-income college students and immigrants, has secured more than $1 million over the last 10 years through the Support Fund, Kennedy said.

“That translates into $50,000 in match support from the Youngstown Foundation,” she said. “Going forward, that’s only going to increase, and we all know what an extra $50,000 in our budget can accomplish.”

Doubling that match would mean $100,000 or more over the next decade that is generated from the Foundation’s Support Fund, Kennedy said. “That becomes even more attractive to donors,” she said.

Bruce Sherman, president of Sherman Creative and a longtime donor through the Support Fund, told guests that the success of the area’s nonprofits and the important services they provide depends on the financial commitment from the community, no matter how small or large.

“Everyone’s financial support is critical,” he said. “No matter what your level of giving is, please know that your ongoing support will ensure that our community’s needs will continue to be met.”

Pictured: Bruce Sherman, president of Sherman Creative; Brigid Kennedy, president of Ursuline Ministries; and Jan Strasfeld, executive director of the Youngstown Foundation.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.