La Crosse County Emergency Response Fund activated in response to COVID-19. More details here.


The Shocking Reason Why the End of 2019 Was Historic

January 15, 2020

Katie Berkedal, Program DirectorBy Katie Berkedal, Program Director

As one of the Coulee Region’s few local grantors, we host four annual grant competitions where nonprofits in La Crosse County can submit requests to support their various needs. It’s not surprising for us to see more dollars requested than dollars available to give, but what happened at the end of 2019 was nothing short of shocking.

The fourth and final grant cycle of 2019 wrapped-up in November, and we had nearly $1,000,000 requested by our local nonprofits; about $700,000 more than “normal.” Fortunately, we were able to award over $600,000, yet not enough to support all the nonprofits and the people they serve.

Nonprofits need our help more than ever, and the overwhelming number or dollars requested is a stark indicator of the need. In an era of growing needs and shrinking government resources, nonprofits are being asked to do even more with less, placing additional strain on their already limited resources.

According to a survey conducted by The Bridgespan Group for the JPMorgan Chase, more than 200 nonprofits serving low and middle income communities identified the top four areas where they needed the most help. Unsurprisingly, “fundraising” was the number one area, receiving 61 percent of the vote.

Local grant-making organizations offer the only realistic grant opportunities for most local nonprofits. Few nonprofits in our area have ever received grants from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, or the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. Their scope and needs don’t give them the edge they need to compete with nonprofits from larger cities for grants from large national funders. Consequently, the demand for funding from local funders in the Coulee Region is great.

La Crosse Community Foundation infuses the nonprofit community with more grant dollars annually than any other grantor in the region. The only reason we’re able to is because we’ve spent the past 90 years building permanent community capital with endowment funds. And while we have much to be thankful for, we need much more to keep up with growing needs.

Nonprofit organizations play a vital role in building healthy communities by providing critical services that contribute to economic stability and mobility. Their leaders frequently serve as the voice of the people they serve. That’s why we work hard to meet frequently with our local nonprofits to ensure we’re keeping up with their needs, but we can’t do this work alone.

We reach out to you today to invite you all to join in this work. Gifts of all sizes will  help us respond to current community needs, and will benefit this home we love forever.