As the water rose on the Cedar River in June 2008, the residents of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, prepared for the worst. And the worst is what they got. Water rose to record levels, flooding 10 square miles, affecting 18,000 people and impacting 450 businesses and 70 nonprofits. The Flood of 2008 affected everyone in Cedar Rapids, but the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation (GCRCF) made it its mission to restore and rebuild the community. For its work, the GCRCF was awarded the Association of Fundraising Professional (AFP) 2012 Award for Outstanding Foundation.
The AFP Award for Outstanding Foundation is awarded to only one foundation in North America each year that demonstrates outstanding commitment through financial support, innovation, encouragement and motivation of others. Past winners include such outstanding foundations as the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Kresge Foundation.
In the days and months following the Flood of 2008, the GCRCF worked in high gear to facilitate funding to Linn County residents and organizations in need of assistance. Just days before the river began to rise, the GCRCF set up the Flood 2008 Fund, and within two weeks it had distributed $290,000 from its own operating revenue. The GCRCF also awarded more than $14 million in flood-related grants from donated funds to help more than 300 organizations since 2008.
Les Garner, president and CEO of the GCRCF, accepted the Outstanding Foundation award at AFP’s 49th International Conference on Fundraising in Vancouver, British Columbia, on March 31.
"Our family of donors was so generous and they offered an overwhelming amount of support after the flood," said Garner. "We received more than 2,732 donations from 45 states and three foreign countries. Seeing our community come through with this kind of support during a difficult time gave us hope that we can make Cedar Rapids as good as, and eventually better than, before the flood."
"In true philanthropic spirit, the GCRCF staff will be the first to tell you it was their honor to help in the wake of the flood," said Dawn Svenson, AFP Eastern Iowa member who co-nominated the GCRCF.
"This distinction recognizes the GCRCF’s role as a community innovator and catalyst for change in our community and it was clearly demonstrated by their efforts in the aftermath of the flood," said Travis Christopher, AFP Eastern Iowa Chapter member and co-nominator.
"We are truly honored to receive this tremendous recognition," said Garner. "After the flood, we did what we felt was necessary to bring our community together around a cause—rebuilding the community. This award affirms that the work we did had an impact in Cedar Rapids, and likely throughout the country."
The GCRCF is continuing to assist with long-term flood recovery efforts, but is also returning focus to its overall mission of connecting donors to the needs of the community and awarding grants that support innovation sustainability and capacity-building for local nonprofits.
"We learned a lot through the flood recovery process," said Garner. "And we’re a better foundation because of it."
# # #About the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation
The Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation (GCRCF), founded in 1949, is a public charitable foundation holding nearly 600 different funds, large and small, established by individuals, families, nonprofit agencies and businesses to benefit Linn County, Iowa. Learn more about GCRCF and view the Flood 2008 Fund Community Impact Report at www.GCRCF.org
About the Association of Fundraising Professionals
The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) represents more than 30,000 members in 229 chapters throughout the world, working to advance philanthropy through advocacy, research, education and certification programs. The association fosters development and growth of fundraising professionals and promotes high ethical standards in the fundraising profession. To learn more about AFP, visit www.AFPnet.org