WHAS Crusade for Children

OVERVIEW: This group runs the most successful telethon in America and awards grants to Kentucky and Southern Indiana nonprofits. Children with special needs are the sole focus here. 

FUNDING AREAS: Children with special needs

IP TAKE:  When applying, keep in mind that religious clergy members decide who gets these grants. There’s typically a lot of support here for Louisville organizations.

PROFILE: The WHAS Crusade for Children makes grants to nonprofits, schools, and hospitals that focus on kids with special needs. The geographic focuses of this funder are Kentucky and Southern Indiana. These grants are only for direct services to help children up to age 18 who have special physical, mental, emotional, and medical needs.

The WHAS Crusade for Children is the oldest, largest, and most successful telethon in America. What makes this organization stand out is its open application process to provide grants to local groups. It is also significant for the size of its giving: total grants have exceeded $5 million per year lately.

The board of directors voted to create a new Crusade Endowment in 2002 to ensure that 100 percent of every donation goes towards children with special needs. In its first 64 years of existence, the group raised over $175 million.  

Note: grants are not made to individuals or families, do not provide general operating support, and no funds go towards administrative costs. Instead, all grants go to specific programs or equipment that directly benefits special needs kids.

In a recent grant cycle, this funder awarded 224 grants and provided $5.5 million from the annual collection. The University of Louisville received the most grant funding for the year. Many of the grants awarded were between $5,000 and $50,000. Sample grantees include the Boys & Girls Club of Bowling Green, CASA of Lexington, Centerstone Kentucky, Down Syndrome of Louisville, and Kentucky Center for the Arts Foundation. A full list of recent grants can be viewed on the funder’s homepage.

In the past, the grant application deadline has fallen in mid-January. The grant year is considered to be September 1 through August 31. You can request an application by letter to the address below. Nonprofits, schools, and hospitals that received grants this year are automatically sent a notice about applying again.

Grant decisions are made by an advisory panel of 12 interdenominational clergypeople. A list of the members is on the funder’s website.

WHAS Crusade for Children staff consists of six professionals, including a grants manager, marketing coordinator, vice president, producer/director, president/CEO, and controller. They can all be reached via email. General questions about the grantmaking process should be directed to Debbie Billingsley, the grants manager, at 502-582-7706 or debbie@whascrusade.org. The address to send a letter to in order to request a grant application is as follows: WHAS Crusade for Children, Grant Application 520 W. Chestnut Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40202.

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