Gilda’s Club Twin Cities is a community dedicated to providing emotional and social support for anyone touched by cancer—those living with it, and their family and friends. Every week Gilda’s Club provides services to 250-300 people in the Twin Cities metro and Greater Minnesota through onsite programs and community events. Their mission is to ensure all people impacted by cancer are empowered by knowledge, strengthened by action and sustained by community.
Gilda’s Club programs offer support, education, healthy lifestyle, social opportunities, information and referrals—all free of charge. The organization is 100% philanthropically-funded, with most of their donations coming from individuals, and a small amount of corporate and foundation support. They employ eight full-time staff, including two licensed mental health professionals, and an amazing network of 500 volunteers.
A few years ago, Michelle Silverman, Gilda’s Club’s now CEO, attended a nonprofit financial training session led by Kate Barr of Propel Nonprofits (formerly Nonprofits Assistance Fund). Michelle immediately felt validated—learning how well Propel Nonprofits understood the nuances and stresses nonprofits faced—and she knew she would look to them in the future for expertise and guidance.
In 2013, Michelle approached Propel Nonprofits with a unique request. Gilda’s Club is part of a global organization called Cancer Support Community, and the global network had certain requirements that needed to be met before a local affiliate could open its doors. After Gilda’s Club’s board and founders had spent years planning and preparing to open their Minnetonka location—they had one final requirement to meet: They needed to have a year’s worth of cash reserves in the bank.
Michelle began working with Allison at Propel Nonprofits, and Propel Nonprofits provided a loan to meet the cash reserves requirement to open the doors. “We tailor-make our loans. That’s what’s great about what we’re able to do. I don’t have a specific loan that’s standard—that doesn’t exist,” Allison said. “It’s an honor to be able to work with people like Michelle. The work we do is a form of justice work. Nonprofits deserve access to capital.” The customized loan—and a payment plan that worked within the organization’s budget—made it possible for Gilda’s Club to open in January 2014, ahead of their target deadline.
“Allison was phenomenal to work with. She asked the hard questions and really knows what she’s doing. She was a phenomenal partner in the whole process,” Michelle told us. “We’ve been nothing but grateful for Propel Nonprofits’ support. With their help, thousands of people here in Minnesota who are impacted by cancer are now able to participate in our programs and get the support they need.”
If your life has been impacted by cancer, Gilda’s Club welcomes you to take a Red Door Tour of the space, referred to as the “Clubhouse.” And if you’d like to extend your support to Gilda’s Club, the organization is always looking for sponsors and individual financial contributions, as well as volunteers to assist with programs, and to share their skills and expertise.
When asked what working with Gilda’s Club has meant to her, Allison said, “Gilda’s Club is one of those places where people aren’t wearing their wigs, because they don’t have to. Where the kids aren’t asking what’s wrong. Financially, we’re paid back—but what’s important is that the seven-county metro is a better place because Gilda’s Club is open.”