Unity can triple money up to $1M

January 3, 2019 GMT

MICHIGAN CITY — The Unity Foundation of La Porte County has found a way to triple its donation money for the next two years.

The Foundation has been awarded a grant of up to $1 million in a 2-for-1 match program, part of the seventh phase of the Lilly Endowment’s Giving Indiana Funds for Tomorrow (GIFT) initiative.

With GIFT VII, the Endowment is making up to $125 million available to help Indiana community foundations “strengthen the towns, cities and counties they serve,” according to a statement from Debra Varnek, vice president of the Unity Foundation.

The Foundation can use the matching funds “to build our financial assets and support our charitable activities,” she said.

Unity will use the money to support the growth of its unrestricted endowments, “which over time will provide flexibility to help the foundation meet community needs,” Varnek said.

The Endowment will provide $2 for every $1 contributed to the Unity Foundation’s unrestricted endowments – such as its Power for Good Fund – through Dec. 31, 2020.

“GIFT VII will help us shape the future of La Porte County for the better,” Michele Magnuson, co-chair of the Foundation said. “We look forward to working with our partners to improve the quality of life here, now and for generations to come.”

The GIFT initiative is part of Lilly Endowment’s grantmaking to strengthen Indiana communities and has been a priority since the first phase in 1990. The primary aim is to help Indiana community foundations develop the philanthropic capacity to identify, prioritize and address local opportunities and challenges, according to the statement.

As an added incentive, and to encourage the engagement of Unity’s board of directors, the Endowment also will award an additional $100,000 unrestricted grant if the Foundation achieves 100 percent financial support from board members between Jan. 1, 2019, and June 30, 2020.

Maggi Spartz, Unity Foundation president, said, “The board members have always supported Unity through their personal giving. They know that Unity is making a difference.”

Starting in 2019, the Foundation will also have the opportunity to apply for even more funds through GIFT VII’s community leadership grants.

This includes planning and implementation grants, which are available to help Unity “deepen its understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing its community; convene key stakeholders; and explore how it can effectively play a leadership role in implementing initiatives and strategies that enhance the quality of life in La Porte County,” Varnek said.

Jon Gilmore, Unity co-chair, said, “Unity has been active in community leadership for many years. This opportunity will help us sharpen our focus and do things that will strengthen our communities.”