A gathering of hundreds last week in Erlanger has the potential of helping thousands more in need over the coming months all across Northern Kentucky.
The first annual NKY Funders’ Grants mini-competition brought together many of the smaller nonprofit organizations that are operating in the area with an audience that included benefactors and other parties interested in assisting with their success.
“It was a celebratory mood in the room,” says Nancy Grayson, president of Horizon Community Funds of Northern Kentucky. “People were very encouraged by the work by all the nonprofits. We heard a number of comments from people about not knowing about some of the smaller nonprofits that were there.”
A crowd estimated in excess of 200 people attended the Nov. 20th event, hosted by the St. Elizabeth Training and Education Center. They heard honed, three-minute pitches from 10 organizations that had been selected as finalists for a total pool of $50,000 in funding across five different categories.
Each category awarded grants of $6,000 for first place and $3,000 for second place. An additional $5,000 was awarded by popular vote of the attendees to the nonprofit that they felt gave the best pitch.
• Arts: first place, Baker Hunt Art & Cultural Center; second place, Vent Haven Museum
• Children & Youth: first place, Salvation Army in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky; second place, Children’s Law Center
• Economic Opportunity: first place, Housing Opportunities of Northern Kentucky; second place, Life Learning Center/Legal Aid of the Bluegrass collaboration
• Education: first place, Adopt A Class; second place, UpSpring
• Health: first place, Vivian’s Victory; second place, Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky
(Summaries of how each finalist plans to use the grant money can be found in this NKY Thrives story.)
The winner of the popular voting for best pitch went to the Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky. They may have gained an emotional edge by opting to be the only one of the 10 finalists who used someone other than an organizational leader to make their pitch, which was delivered by Dawn Rhodes, who volunteers at the shelter.
“There were a good number of pitches that left people teary-eyed. The point is there are people in need in our area,” says Grayson. “I think what may have given (the Emergency Shelter) an edge was her personal connection to the story, because she was able to articulate why she supported the organization, and what additional things could be provided if the audience supported it — an additional shower for their guests and additional hours they could be open during the upcoming winter.”
The funding wasn’t the only point of the evening: It was also a chance for nonprofits to work on the art of making a pitch, plus it was an opportunity to get those looking to support the community in the same room with service providers.
“We’re excited to do this again next year and hope to engage more funders,” Grayson says. “I also felt there was a buzz in the room about the community and focusing on Northern Kentucky, that there was a hyper-local focus for the funders.”
Funders who supported this inaugural competition included the Butler Foundation, the Charles H. Dater Foundation, the R.C. Durr Foundation, Horizon Community Funds of Northern Kentucky, and the Elsa Heisel Sule Foundation.
For information about this event and how to become involved, contact Nancy Grayson at [email protected].