January 29, 2021

Gifting Grinnell, a virtual auction intended to stimulate business activity and benefit nonprofit programs, is in the final planning stages by six area organizations that have partnered throughout the past year to ease the pandemic’s local burden.

At the end of 2020, the City of Grinnell, Grinnell Mutual and Grinnell College combined efforts to allocate $75,000 to support businesses identified by Grinnell Area Chamber of Commerce. Now, representatives from the city, chamber, college, and Grinnell Mutual are joining the efforts of the Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation (GPCF) and the Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Foundation (CDAF) to broaden the December grant stimulus and to invite community involvement throughout February.

Beginning Feb. 8, each of the 10 businesses that received December grants will offer, via the Gifting Grinnell online month-long auction, items such as merchandise, gift cards, or experiences that members of the community can bid on via website. Auction items will be categorized in different themes, and new items will be added each week so it is important that potential bidders check back weekly to see what is new.

The Gifting Grinnell online auction is expected to stimulate additional business downtown as bidders and donors cash in on their auction items. “The online auction is another way to show support for our local businesses which are working hard every day to maintain safe shopping environments for neighbors and customers,” said Chamber President and CEO Rachael Kinnick. “The recent grants and related efforts like the auction can quickly move resources to address needs and we encourage residents to support these efforts as they are able.”

The virtual auction is also expected to raise awareness of the continuous work of community nonprofit programs, as auction bidders will also become donors to nonprofits assisting in pandemic efforts.

“Generosity gives everyone the opportunity to add value to the local community,” said GPCF Executive Director Nicole Brua-Behrens. “Donors and businesses support those most in need through their caring and collaboration.”

Ten percent of each week’s proceeds will be awarded to the Nonprofit Emergency Relief Fund (NERF), established in March 2020 by community partner organizations. NERF has distributed more than $59,000 in assistance to local nonprofits since last March. The remaining 90 percent of auction proceeds will be divided among nonprofit programs assigned to each Gifting Grinnell auction week. Bidders and donors will be able to view the list of nonprofits as they make their bids each week.

Organizers of Gifting Grinnell hope to raise an additional $75,000 through the online auction process, to match the $75,000 in seed money granted by the city, college and Grinnell Mutual in December. “Everyone has been affected in some way by the public health crisis and in many cases, basic family needs such as food and housing still need to be met,” said Julie Gosselink, President and CEO of CDAF. “GPCF and CDAF want to do our part to join with the city, chamber and local employers to help in any way we can through the auction and other ongoing fundraising efforts.”

The virtual month-long auction will open at 8 a.m. on Mon., Feb. 8 on the CDAF website at ahrensfamilyfoundation.org/gifting-grinnell-program with new items added weekly and winning bidders notified on Friday of each week.

In addition to the Gifting Grinnell auction, direct contributions to community nonprofit programs and funds may be made online at greaterpcf.org or ahrensfamilyfoundation.org; or via mail to Foundation Offices, P.O. Box 344, Grinnell IA 50112, 641-236-5518. The Chamber is also accepting contributions to the Small Business Relief Fund for grants to local businesses. Individuals may donate by check payable to Grinnell Area Chamber of Commerce (with SBRF in the memo line) and mailed to P.O. Box 538, Grinnell.