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How a Community Nonprofit Attracts Major National Donors

Memory Matters, a South Carolina nonprofit that received a grant in First Nonprofit Foundation’s most recent round of awards, has received a lot of support and recognition over the past year. In December 2013, it was named the PGA TOUR Charity of the Year, and in July 2014, it received the Brodsky Innovation Grant from the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA). The accompanying awards totaled $55,000.

One of the reasons Memory Matters has been so successful is what AFA called its “forward thinking” approach. The Brodsky Grant recognizes “a groundbreaking program or service that improves the lives of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and their families.” To earn the award, the program “must be unique, fulfill a great need within the community, and demonstrate potential for replication.”

AFA honored Memory Matters for taking “a fresh look at how communities can be optimized to better support the needs of residents with dementia” through its dementia-friendly communities initiative. The initiative educates area residents and business owners to help them recognize dementia-related behaviors and respond sensitively and effectively. While the dementia-friendly communities movement is active in the United Kingdom, Memory Matters was unable to find a similar program anywhere in the United States.

“Memory Matters embraced the intent of this grant,” said AFA Chairman Bert Brodsky. “Their desire to raise awareness of the disease so that people with dementia can feel safe and be more incorporated into the community addresses a critical need, not only in Hilton Head, but across the country.”

In addition to its innovative approach, Memory Matters has been recognized for the immediate impact of its services in the local community. The PGA awarded $30,000 to support the organization’s social day program, which Memory Matters provides at a reduced cost and in some cases for free to families in need. With studies suggesting that one third of caregivers die before the Alzheimer’s patient due to caregiver stress, the program fills a critical void. “Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia present many challenges to individuals in our society on a daily basis,” PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem said during the award presentation. “Memory Matters has done great things in the Hilton Head Island area.”

Finally, Memory Matters is striving to create a model that can be replicated by other organizations, with the goal of promoting dementia-friendly communities throughout the United States.

By taking a novel approach to a serious social problem, providing high-impact services and sharing the model for others to replicate, Memory Matters is having an impact far beyond its community in Hilton Head. First Nonprofit is proud to support their vision of making communities everywhere friendlier to people struggling with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.