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“It communicated that the organization is stable and worthy of investment. It helped people planning on giving do so with confidence.” – Jennifer Vigran, CEO of Second Helpings
Second Helpings was founded by three chefs inspired to address four critical community issues: food waste, hunger, job training and the need for skilled labor for the local food service industry. Their solution was turning unused food into meals and jobs.
As an organization that has grown to serve more than 90 local social service agencies, Second Helpings must be able to address any challenges that affect the many aspects of its business, including technology, fleets, fire monitoring and security systems, freezer capacity and backup systems and everything it takes to allow it to operate on a day-to-day basis. “In serving 90 other not-for-profits, our financial stability is critical to the entire community. The impact if we failed would snowball to impact the shelters and the many other organizations that we serve,” said Vigran.
In 2016, Second Helpings was part of the first round of Lilly Endowment’s human services financial sustainability grants, designed to help organizations build strong financial futures so they can have a lasting impact on the communities they serve. The opportunity led to insights for Second Helpings about what sustainability meant in its context: remaining vital to the community and fulfilling its mission without interruption. This led thoughts about making smart short-term investments to fortify fundraising and marketing capacity and to address facility needs – all in ways that would generate enhanced future cash flow. Plans also began for establishing and managing an endowment, the income from which could be used to further strengthen the organization for the long-term.
“This grant opportunity has allowed us to reach higher and be positioned to grow where and when needed to better serve the community,” explained Vigran. “Since the grant announcement, we have been able to successfully make the case to current and prospective donors that Second Helpings is a stronger organization even better positioned to effectively deploy their donations to serve those in need.”
Continuing its efforts to promote the sustainability of key charitable organizations in the community, the Endowment recently funded a third round of sustainability grants to 10 Indianapolis human services agencies totaling $48 million to help strengthen their long-term financial sustainability. The organizations serve people across central Indiana through a variety of programs that work to end homelessness; provide childcare and before- and after-school programs to foster success in school and beyond; support individuals and families affected by domestic violence; and promote social and economic self-reliance.
“The grants are designed to help these valuable organizations build long-term financial strength and resiliency, not fund the day-to-day needs,” said Rob Smith, the Endowment’s vice president for community development. “We hope our grants help these agencies more effectively attract additional support for their critically important work.”
Second Helpings currently turns more than 200,000 pounds of rescued food into 80,000 meals every month. Each day, rescued food is used to create 4,000 hot, nutritious meals that are distributed to more than 90 local social service agencies that feed people in need.