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New Endowment, Stronger Future for Jasper County CASA

Jasper County CASA’s new endowment lays the foundation of service for years to come

Annual report FY23

Securing a Future for Child Advocacy

In the next 50 years of the CFO’s grantmaking, and in the future of charitable giving itself, endowments will be increasingly essential tools for maintaining an organization’s financial stability. Endowments are permanent funds that will provide annual income to support an organization. As of 2023, endowments pay out 4% of the fund’s principal yearly, which means that an organization with a $100,000 endowment will have $4,000 of support each year. Invested for long-term growth, that amount ultimately increases over the years.

Jasper County Court Appointed Special Advocates offers an example of how endowments can be key to an organization’s stability. A grant recipient of the CFO’s Endowment Match Challenge, the recently established branch of CASA supports abused and neglected children in the Joplin and Carthage area. JasCo CASA began rather inauspiciously as a completely volunteer-run chapter in 2017, but thanks to a motivated board and staff and the support of local organizations and donors, JasCo CASA has become an essential asset for its community.

A successful capital campaign moved them from an obscure, windowless office in downtown Joplin to a much more visible (and well-lit) building on East 20th Street, and a grant from the Philanthropic Society, the Joplin Regional Community Foundation’s giving circle supported its first paid employee. But the organization had concerns about its long-term budgeting.

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Jasper County CASA, led by Executive Director Debi Koelkebeck, successfully completed the CFO’s Endowment Match Challenge to seed its endowment.

“A third of our income comes from the state, through the Victims of Crime Act,” says Executive Director Debi Koelkebeck. “This funding is very unstable, unreliable. The rest is from donations and fundraisers.” They knew they needed to secure more reliable funding.

“We got excited thinking about building an endowment that could eventually fund a big part of our budget, and the Endowment Match Challenge came at just the right time for us,” Koelkebeck says. “We thought it could be a good test of the waters for a larger endowment-building project.”

Despite fears that fundraising for an endowment would be a tougher ask than a capital campaign with a more visible result, Koelkebeck says it went encouragingly well.

“People jumped in on the endowment! The donors mentioned that they’re so glad we’re looking to the future and that we’re building something that will sustain.” By the end of the fundraiser, JasCo CASA had raised about double the $15,000 it needed to meet the challenge.

Andy Perigo, JasCo CASA’s first board president and a current board member, says the success has inspired the board to make more ambitious plans: “We set a general fundraising goal of $1 million in the next three years and $5 million in five years.”

Since 2017, JasCo CASA has worked with more than 450 children who come from abusive or negligent situations and has helped place them in safer homes. Now, with an endowment that can grow and eventually provide a large part of their operational budget, JasCo CASA can continue its vital mission and ensure a brighter future for the most vulnerable members of its community.

By Matthew Stewart

Read More from Annual Report FY23

Mission: Success

At the Agency Partner Appreciation Luncheon in September, the CFO recognized the recipients of a special Endowment Match Challenge for the CFO’s 50th anniversary. This challenge offered a grant of $10,000 to participating organizations that could raise $15,000 over the course of a month this summer. Because all 10 organizations met the goal, more than $250,000 is now permanently endowed for the perpetual benefit of these agencies:

• Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks

• Cabool Education Foundation

• Cape Girardeau Public Schools Foundation

• Care to Learn

• Christos House Inc.

• Jasper County CASA

• Ozark Greenways

• Springfield Dream Center

• Springfield Sister Cities Association

• Watershed (formerly Watershed Committee of the Ozarks)

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