Mind & Spirit

Midway Village: Endowment Opportunity Needs Public Support


Rockford’s beloved history museum has a chance to boost its funding, at a time when state support is disappearing. Learn how your donations can go the extra mile – but only if you act in time.

Civil War Hands-on History Days is an award-winning school program held annually at Midway Village Museum. This year, more than 5,000 students learned about the Civil War through learning stations related to different aspects of the war.

Civil War Hands-on History Days is an award-winning school program held annually at Midway Village Museum. This year, more than 5,000 students learned about the Civil War through learning stations related to different aspects of the war.

Midway Village Museum has an opportunity to add $200,000 to its coffers, but it needs your help.

The museum has been accepted into the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois Carroll H. Starr Endowment Challenge. If the museum can raise $150,000 by October 2018, the Community Foundation will award the museum an additional $50,000.

During a time when the state is reducing its funding to nonprofits across the state, this money is very important to the museum, says Dave Byrnes, president of Midway Village Museum.

“This encourages nonprofits to create endowments that will stabilize their finances over a long period of time,” he says. “Proceeds from the endowment would go in the general operating fund and would become a regular source of income that can be used to support the organization.”

The endowment challenge is an opportunity for nonprofits in Boone, Ogle, Stephenson and Winnebago counties to create a permanent endowment and receive $1 for every $3 raised. Once created, the permanent endowments will provide Midway Village with a perpetual revenue stream. These funds will allow Midway Village to grow and evolve while continuing to collect, preserve and interpret the rich history of the region.

The endowment is named after the late Carroll H. Starr, co-founder of the Rockford Community Trust, now known as the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois. He helped to oversee the organization from its inception in 1953 until his death 10 years later.

Starr was a prominent businessman, part owner of the first Ford Motor Car dealership in Rockford, a banker and manager of a local investment firm. He was also a leading advocate for families, with 30 years of service on the Family Welfare Service Board.

“Part of Starr’s vision was that the foundation and its endowments would be perpetual reservoirs for philanthropy,” says Jon Bates, president of the Community Foundation. “Midway Village will know that, once the endowment is created, they will get a check every year.”

The Community Foundation distributes 4 percent of the average balance of permanent endowments each year, which can be used for salaries, maintenance fees, programs or whatever is needed.

“The rest of the money stays with the Community Foundation and they invest it,” Byrnes says. “So, if the money earns 5 percent, 4 percent would come to the museum and the rest would stay with the principal, so it gets a little bit bigger and it grows over time.”

Currently, the museum has raised about $72,000 since the fundraising campaign began last December. A big chunk of that money came from Alpine Bank, which provided a lead gift of $15,000 to get the campaign off the ground.

“That was huge for us,” Byrnes says. “Alpine Bank has been a longtime supporter of Midway Village. We need to raise the other half, and sometimes that’s the toughest half to raise.”

Due to the declining value of the tax base in Rockford, Midway Village is losing about $100,000 a year in funding, Byrnes says. To offset that shortfall, Byrnes is hoping to increase what the museum receives in endowments. Midway Village receives about $44,000 a year in endowment income, which makes up about 3 percent of its total budget. Increasing the endowment will provide stable funding and allow the museum to plan for the future. Byrnes is hoping to see endowment income increase to $100,000 annually. Winning this endowment challenge would put the museum closer to its goal.

“Losing $100,000 each year is not making us financially stable,” Byrnes says. “We have reserves to use when we need it, but not every institution has that. We had to find another source of revenue to supplement what we’ve lost in terms of government support.”

Forty percent of the money Midway Village receives goes to Education Special Events, 19 percent goes to administration and another 19 percent goes to utilities and maintenance.

The rest of the money goes to office equipment, fundraising, insurance and accounting fees, among other things.

“We have institutions that are talking about the state funding crisis, but how are they responding to that?” Byrnes says. “This is a way Midway Village wants to respond to the crisis.”

Even after Midway Village reaches its goal, Byrnes hopes donors will help Midway continue to grow the endowment. Donors can give legacy gifts through a will which also may be used for endowment purposes.

“They can give a portion of their estate to the Midway Village endowment, which will memorialize their gift in perpetuity,” Bates says. “Their name will always be associated with Midway Village.”

In order to qualify for the endowment challenge, an entity has to be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that operates in Boone, Ogle, Stephenson or Winnebago County. The endowment is awarded after a committee of Community Foundation volunteers and its Board of Trustees select nonprofits that are strong organizations, have a clear plan for raising the funds and have a vision for the role of endowment in their organization.

This is the eighth time the Community Foundation has awarded Carroll Starr Endowment Challenge grants. Recent recipients include the Freeport Art Museum, Klehm Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Discovery Center Museum, Rockford University and the Belvidere Boone County Food Pantry.

To learn more or to donate, call or email Byrnes at (815) 397-9112 ext. 103, david.byrnes@midwayvillage.com or visit midwayvillage.com.

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