Interfaith, which has an annual budget of $650,000, has been living on the edge in recent years. The agency, which relies solely on donations, holds many annual fundraisers to feed 27,000 struggling people and provide 11,680 nights of shelter for the homeless throughout the year.
At last week's fundraiser, officials raised more than $25,000, a nice haul for Interfaith's fundraising arm, Interfaith Foundation of Marion County.
What Interfaith Executive Director Karla Grimsley didn't know was that "a gift from God" was coming her way.
On Thursday, the Munroe Regional Medical Center board of trustees chose Shands/Health Management Associates, known as HMA, to run the hospital. To show its commitment to Marion County, HMA promised $1 million to Interfaith and another $500,000 to the Munroe Regional Medical Center volunteer organization.
Interfaith officials didn't learn they were up for such a gift until documents were released on Thursday.
"I was on pins and needles waiting for the call (which came late Thursday)," Grimsley said Friday morning. She said she couldn't sleep, thinking about the ways the funding could help the agency survive well into the future.
Though the $1 million donation is unrestricted and will come in one lump sum after the deal closes, the money will be carefully designated. Much of the money will be invested, like an endowment, with future interest and dividends being used to offset operating costs.
Mike Mangan, the executive director of the two-year-old Interfaith Foundation, said the agency, with help from financial advisers, will spend the next two months deciding the best way to spend and invest the money.
As impressive as the donation is, it would sustain Interfaith for only 18 months if it was the agency's sole source of income.
Officials said the agency will still need donations to operate, but the new cash will allow it to bolster programs and add some new ones without having to worry about cash flow in emergencies.
Since Interfaith opened its doors in 1983, its executive director had been in charge of running the operation and seeking out donations to keep the facility solvent throughout the year.
That was until December 2010, when Mangan was hired to set up a foundation. The fundraising arm has been picking up steam ever since.
The foundation has been promised contributions in the wills of many living philanthropists, though those funds may not be available for many years to come.
Contact Joe Callahan at 867-4113 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at JoeOcalaNews.