Public/private partnerships: a powerful tool to benefit Cincinnati nonprofits

Guest column by Scott Provancher

While federal stimulus funding has dominated the dialogue around our nationwide response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a powerful force for good deserves equal credit for making a positive impact.

This force is public/private partnerships – when public funding is leveraged with private charitable giving to address our community’s most pressing challenges and visionary ideas. 

As our region works to recover from the pandemic and grapples with tremendous challenges from child poverty to racial inequity to infrastructure investments in parks and public amenities, the power of leveraging public and private funds is a winning formula for creating change and improving our community.

Scott Provancher

Eight years ago, I founded Ignite Philanthropy to help nonprofit organizations raise the resources needed to fulfill their missions and help private individuals, foundations and companies achieve greater impact through their charitable giving. Since that time, Ignite Philanthropy has worked with hundreds of philanthropists, civic leaders, and nonprofit executives on countless community initiatives, from the revitalization of Music Hall to the Growing Beyond Hunger campaign for the Freestore Foodbank. 

Regardless of the size of the project, success was achieved through public and private leadership, collaboration and investment. 

Over the last 18 months, one community project initiative led by a local organization stands out as an exemplary model of collaboration in the public and private sectors: Bethany House, which was founded in 1984 and has quietly operated the largest shelter for families experiencing homelessness, serving 66% of the homeless children in our region.

Bethany House has seven homes and facilities scattered throughout the city, none of which were designed to shelter families. Recognizing their need for a better physical space, their board took the bold step of launching an $18.5 million campaign to build a new family shelter and services center.

Early support from the City of Cincinnati to purchase the land for the new facility helped launch the project. This investment from the city built trust with local and national philanthropists who, in turn, stepped up with significant lead donations. Over the course of the past year, hundreds of individuals, companies and foundations donated over $11 million to the project. 

The outpouring of private donations allowed Bethany House to secure public support in the form of New Markets Tax Credits, money from the Ohio capital budget and an additional grant from the City of Cincinnati, which allowed them to reach their goal.

Thanks to the power of the public and private sectors working together, a dream that once seemed out of reach is now becoming a reality for Bethany House and the hundreds of families they serve each year.

Bethany House is only one example of many community projects that benefit from inspired civic, business and community leaders who work to create a collaborative funding model. Our community challenges and opportunities are too great for us to go it alone. 

Let us ignite positive change for our region by leveraging the power of public and private partnerships.


Scott Provancher is the founder, president and CEO of Ignite Philanthropy, a philanthropic consulting firm based in Cincinnati. Ignite works with private donors and nonprofits to leverage their resources and ideas to achieve greater impact in the communities they serve.


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