What Happens When a Family Foundation Receives More Applications than Ever Before?

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May 4, 2011; Source: The Star Press | In a recent opinion piece in The Star Press, Jud Fisher, president and COO of Ball Brothers Foundation in Muncie, Ind., provides a context for the news that his organization is on track to review more grant applications than ever before in the foundation’s history. While Fisher links this dramatic uptick in applications to the economic downturn, he also suggests to fellow Indiana residents that the misperception about the scope of his organization is an indication that “we haven’t always told our story well.”

By March 2011, Ball Brothers Foundation had already received 87 proposals for a total request of $9.2 million, an amount that “far exceeds” the organization’s grant-making budget for 2011 and nearly doubles the 55 awards that it made in 2010, totaling $4.7 million. “If people misunderstand what we do and how we do it, the fault is ours,” Fisher acknowledges in his piece. “There still exists the misperception that a private foundation is a remote, even mysterious, organization with pockets deep enough to support every worthy cause that asks for help. That wasn't true in the past and it isn't the case in 2011.”

Just as nonprofits are increasingly collaborating and partnering with peer organizations as a way of responding to economic challenges, Fisher presents “collaboration” as being essential to the future of his organization. “As Ball Brothers Foundation prepares to mark its 85th anniversary, we plan to ramp up our visibility for the purpose of highlighting the organizations we support, clarifying our mission, and attracting partners who share our goals,” he explains.

Emphasizing that Ball Brothers is not a “sunset foundation” prepared to use all assets, Fisher instead notes that his organization is “committed to being part of East Central Indiana's future just as it has been part of its past.”—Anne Eigeman