Donor Profile: Jennifer Garst - the Spirit of Giving
by Jordan Bles on Friday, November 3, 2023
When I started at IEC in 2019, one of my first lunch meetings was with Jennifer Garst. She was someone who I knew a little bit about – her legacy through Whiterock Conservancy, her former board service to the Iowa Environmental Council, and her history of generous donations.
What I didn’t know was that Jennifer’s spirit of giving extended well beyond her monetary support of IEC, and that this was just the first of many meetings that I would start to greatly look forward to.
Jennifer’s giving to IEC, while mostly anonymous, has transformed the way we raise money and the way we grow community support. And the support of her time and expertise has a value that I could not possibly put a dollar amount on.
Since before I started at IEC, Jennifer was the source of our annual GivingTuesday matching gift campaign. At the time, it was the only matching gift campaign we did. But, Jennifer didn’t just want to know the matching gift had been made – she wanted to know the balance of large and small dollar gifts that got the organization to the match. And the balance of new donors and returning donors. And the geographic spread. Because she knew, if this matching gift campaign was going to grow beyond her support and legacy, the gift couldn’t just be matched.
It’s worth noting how this campaign has grown. We have doubled our GivingTuesday matching gift. We had a huge success with GivingTuesdayNow during the pandemic. And we have added another matching gift opportunity with Iowa Gives Green each year. All of this exists because Jennifer gave us the chance to not only leverage her gift as a matching gift, but challenged us to build a sustainable campaign around it.
My time spent with Jennifer has not only made me a better fundraiser, but a better person. Jennifer passed away on Nov. 1st. I will miss sharing stories of bike rides and family. And her morning hospitality after the Garst Family Pig Roast each year. At IEC, we are grateful for all that Jennifer has given of her time and talents. Personally, I am grateful that I got to call her a colleague and friend.