By Sally Voth
The Shenandoah County Chamber of Commerce is trying to help area nonprofits raise more money, but without the need to hit up area businesses for donations.
The chamber would like to buy a license to the Foundation Center, a database of grant funding that would be available at the Shenandoah County Library. Charities and members of the public could search the database for public and private funding available nationwide, according to a news release from the chamber.
"I was really surprised to learn how few of our members actually utilize grants," chamber Executive Director Jenna French said Friday. "Most of them had just expressed they didn't know where to begin looking, that the process is just daunting to them."
She said a chamber board member had been driving to libraries in Fairfax and Leesburg to use the database.
"We want to be able to give back to the community and support our nonprofit members," French said.
Charitable organizations are the largest growing sector of businesses when it comes to chamber membership. French said there are more than 60 nonprofits that belong to the chamber.
"Our hope is that it takes some of the strain off our local businesses and individuals," French said. "All of our organizations are looking for ways to raise money, but they're consistently holding fundraisers or approaching the same businesses over and over again to support [their causes]."
French said the chamber plans to monitor how many organizations use the database, how many go on to apply for grants and how much they are actually awarded. She said a work session on how to use the database and a grant-writing seminar would be planned.
The release states nonprofits have pledged more than $1,200 to put toward the license's $4,000 annual fee. Sponsors are being sought for the remainder of the cost.
Contact staff writer Sally Voth at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org