Iowa Shares celebrates 25 years of aiding nonprofits

Iowa Shares, a state-wide fundraising federation that helps raise money for local nonprofits, kicks off its 25-year anniversary celebration series in Iowa City.

File+photo.+%28Joseph+Cress%2FThe+Daily+Iowan%29

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Josep

File photo. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Paige Schlichte, [email protected]

Iowa Shares, a nonprofit fundraising federation based in Iowa City, celebrated 25 years of helping to raise money for its member nonprofits with music, dancing, and laughter Thursday night.

Iowa Shares is a statewide fundraising group that is an affiliate of a national organization called Shares USA. The Iowa chapter was established in December 1992 in central Iowa with the goal of providing a forum for fundraising for smaller nonprofits. Iowa Shares quickly spread to eastern Iowa, and Iowa City and Cedar Rapids now generate the bulk of Iowa Shares’ fundraising.

“Iowa City, the University of Iowa, and Johnson County have all been instrumental in the success of Iowa Shares,” Iowa Shares program coordinator Holly Hart said.

Hart also noted the organization has seen a recent increase in donations, particularly after the 2016 presidential election, something members refer to as the “Trump Bump.”

“Recently, we’ve been seeing a renewed awareness in the communities,” Hart said. “I think in this country and the way our system works, philanthropy and community support is good. We rely on that.”

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In order to celebrate its 25 years of philanthropy, Iowa Shares will host a series of celebrations in each of its three main cities: Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, and Iowa City. The celebration series kicked off in Iowa City on Thursday night with entertainment provided by the Combined Efforts Dancers, Iowa Oorja Bollywood Dance Ensemble, and comedian Craig Jarvie.

Hart said Iowa Shares has 21 members and is looking to expand its reach, particularly in the Quad Cities area. Its current members include Girls on the Run of Eastern Iowa and the Iowa City Public Library Friends Foundation.

Each member organization designates a representative to serve on Iowa Shares’ “working board,” where they collaborate with the board to vote on fundraising decisions.

“The individual member organizations truly do have control over the direction Iowa Shares takes,” secretary of the board Gail Ardery said. “A lot of people have been on the board longer than I have, some people for almost all 25 years. Part of the joy of being in Iowa Shares is that you have these long-established relationships, and everyone’s working for the same goal, raising funds for these causes.”

Many years before she became the secretary of the board, Ardery donated to the organization via payroll deduction, which is the most common type of donation Hart said.

“We all share the same spirit and goals,” Ardery said. “We’re all really close — it’s just sweet.”

Maureen McCue, the Iowa Shares’ representative for Iowa Physicians for Social Responsibility, brought the group into Iowa Shares 12 years ago. The physicians’ organization aims to prevent and reverse harm to the environment to protect health.

“It’s a nice coalition of mutually supportive groups,” McCue said. “These groups do different things in the community that are reinforcing of each other, and it’s a very nice way to help earn funds for all of us and to get our names out there.”

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