By Wendy Harlow, Philanthropy Director
Last year was a huge year for philanthropy at St. Vincent de Paul Indianapolis (SVdP). Our donors gave unprecedented amounts of their time and resources to those in our community who need it most and in doing so, they shared hope. (See our donor report.)
Funding the work of SVdP is a collaborative effort, driven by the community around us. Our budget—and our ability to respond to the growing needs of those we serve—comes from a number of philanthropic sources.
In addition to income from our Mission 27 Resale stores, which are an important part of our funding strategy (Read Peter Zubler’s article about the impact these thrift stores are allowing us to make.), SVdP is fortunate to receive grants from many foundations and others like the United Way of Central Indiana, Central Indiana Community Foundation, and Ascension St. Vincent. Additionally, events like the Love Your Neighbor 5K Run/Walk on April 24 (registration is open now) and the annual Struttin’ Our Stuff auction raise money for our mission. And our Virtual Food Drive gives donors the opportunity to help provide nutritious options in our food pantry.
Individuals and Family Foundations: The Heart of Our Donor Base
Every gift is important to fulfilling our mission, but some of the most meaningful ones are from individual donors and family foundations. Since I joined SVdP in November 2018, I’ve met many of our donors, and I’m inspired by their generosity and their devotion to our mission. These donors have a real connection to the mission of the organization, and often volunteer in addition to giving financial support. They see the important work we do and services we provide and, most importantly, how life-changing it can be for those we serve. Some of the most inspiring gifts are from current or past participants of our programs. I’ve received several notes from donors who say they want to give back to an organization who helped them when they were homeless or when their families needed food or help with household necessities. Each one reminds me of the selflessness of our donors and the impact of every gift.
One of our monthly donors, whom I now consider a friend, is Veronica. Veronica is a weekly customer at SVdP’s food pantry and counts on the nutritious food she receives from us to feed her family. Her need to care full-time for her disabled daughter limits her employment options, so she worked hard to find a job she could do at home. I was astonished when Veronica approached me a few months ago, asking if she could become a donor. Veronica explained that although she lives beneath the poverty level, she considers herself fortunate to have a job. She said she sees firsthand how the SVdP food pantry gives people hope, and she wanted to help. Veronica carefully sets aside a small amount each month to give as a charitable contribution. That gift is one of the most inspiring and meaningful I have seen, but Veronica is not alone.
At SVdP, we saw giving increase in 2020. At a time when many organizations experienced decreased donor support, the number of donors and the amount given to SVdP actually increased. In 2020, over 3,000 individual donors supported the work of SVdP. This includes donations from foundations, regular donors and new donors. Many people gave their stimulus checks to SVdP, saying they knew someone might need the money more than they did.
One of the reasons SVdP has maintained such a loyal donor base is that donors trust us to be good stewards of their financial gifts. Those who designate their gifts toward specific programs such as the food pantry, the Changing Lives Forever program, or our homeless programs, do so because they feel a connection to the work of those programs. And many donors give unrestricted donations that allow SVdP to use funds where they are needed most. Regardless of whether gifts are designated or unrestricted, each one makes a difference. Some of my most meaningful interactions with donors have come from inviting them to see the results of their support in person. Donors love visiting our programs to see their impact, and I love to see their pride in knowing they made those programs possible.
Rosalie Circle & Endowment Gifts
Two growing components of our long-term philanthropy program are the Rosalie Circle and endowment giving options. The Rosalie Circle—named in honor of Rosalie Rendu and her generosity—was created for those who wish to include SVdP in their estate plans. We will work with you to understand your wishes and ensure your gift will be used exactly how you’d like. Additionally, the SVdP Indy Endowment creates an ongoing source of income for SVdP for years to come. We receive annual distributions of the proceeds to supplement our yearly budget. Endowment gifts ensure our work carries on far into the future, while allowing the giver to support the programs most meaningful to them.