An independent nonprofit organization, unaffiliated with any particular parish or diocese, the League of Catholic Women has been developing creative solutions to the problems facing women in every decade of its 106-year history. Four years ago, these dynamic women were faced with a daunting challenge of their own.
For 65 years, the League of Catholic Women had operated out of a building it owned at 207 South Ninth Street in downtown Minneapolis. For many years, the cost of maintaining that beloved building was consuming an unsustainable percentage of the League’s financial resources — and a decision to sell the building was finally made.
“There was a tremendous amount of affection for the building and emotion around the sale,” says Past President Fran Rusciano Murnane. “League members had been married there — but we simply couldn’t afford to maintain a space that size.”
After the sale, the League moved into a handsome new office at the Woman’s Club and immediately turned its attention to bringing the League back from the brink of collapse. “Save the League” was the mantra for members who were committed to attracting new members and breathing new life into the organization.
Meanwhile the proceeds from the sale were waiting a decision from the board of directors.
A Shared Passion for Making a Difference
Anne Lawler, who helped guide development efforts for the League during her time on the board, used her background in accounting to research various investment options for proceeds from the building sale – including Murnane’s suggestion of the Catholic Community Foundation of Minnesota (CCF).
Lawler was impressed with both the core values and financial returns offered by CCF “When CCF presented to the board, it was like a light went on,” says Lawler. “We knew that this was where we needed to put our money. You could tell that they were passionate about what they do — it wasn’t just a job for them, it was a calling.”
In April, the League Board of Directors voted unanimously to invest more than $2 million with CCF, putting $1,500,000 in a permanent endowment fund where the principal can’t be touched, and the remainder into a more liquid agency fund.
Making Small Grants with Enormous Impact
The League’s budget this year is balanced at about $60,000 — both income and revenue are equal — so the investment income the League earns from its CCF accounts won’t be needed to advance current business, programs, or outreach. A percentage can be reinvested for growth and another used to start or enhance an existing program at the League’s discretion.
First fruits from the investment income fund a micro grant program, envisioned in 2013 when saving the League was at its height, where a specific amount of money is given to an individual for a life-enhancing need. The League is partnering with two other 501(c)(3) organizations, Jeremiah House and Sarah’s: An Oasis for Women, to identify women who can benefit from the micro grants.
CCF is another valuable community partner. “They have such deep relationships within the Catholic community,” says Murnane. “They can always put you in touch with somebody they know who can help you with whatever you’re trying to do.”