Supporting community is a shared effort. Luckily, there are many different ways to plug in! You might volunteer your time: building homes, serving food, helping animals, cleaning public spaces. Maybe you’re able to commit to shopping locally and directly supporting your town’s economy. Or perhaps you choose to support causes you believe in with a monthly or yearly donation to a nonprofit that reinvests in your area.
In these pages, you’ll find a few of the hardworking nonprofits that fight day in and day out to make this a more livable place. These groups rely on donations and volunteer hours from community members like you who share that vision.
You’ll also learn about some independent retailers that bring a thoughtful and unique product mix to local shoppers. These businesses depend on shoppers’ dollars to continue to adapt, thrive and improve the community themselves.
It’s essential that these nonprofits and retailers receive year-round support. But end-of-year giving and holiday gift purchases can provide a much-needed boost into the new year. This winter, find a new favorite cause to support in our donation drive or knock out some gift shopping at a small business you can be proud to live near.
Founded in 1948 and serving 200,000 patrons annually, the Des Moines Art Center provides opportunities for transformational art experiences through its collections, exhibitions, and educational programming. Their staff of 45 facilitate community outreach programs that serve students of all ages. Education programs and interpretative materials include conversational tours, artist talks, school programs, gallery activities and audio content highlighting personal connections inspired by artworks.
In 2023, the Des Moines Art Center will be celebrating its 75th anniversary. One of several special events planned is the “Art Center: 75 Years of Iowa Art” exhibition. Running Feb. 10 through May 7, 2023, this exhibition will reflect the work of artists who have lived and worked in Iowa and their connections to the Des Moines Art Center.
The Des Moines Art Center is a modern and contemporary art museum located in Des Moines, Iowa (4700 Grand Ave), engaging diverse audiences with art experiences. The Art Center offers changing gallery exhibits, studio classes, an onsite restaurant, rental facilities, a gift shop and the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park—a 4-acre park in the heart of Des Moines’ Western Gateway. People often assume that there is an admission fee to visit the Des Moines Art Center, however, admission to the museum and galleries is always free for all.
No matter your age or background, access to plants and beauty is essential to the mission of Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. The Botanical Garden’s conservatory, Gardeners Show House and 12 acres of outdoor gardens provide respite and engagement with the natural world. Educational programs offer learning opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds, highlighting the importance of plants and native ecology. Throughout the year, 134,256 guests (FY22 total) experience botanically themed art and musical programming.
Founded in 1979, and located in Des Moines’ Historic East Village, the organization’s name changed in 2011 when the Botanical Garden assumed 501(c)(3) status. Many community members still refer to the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden as the Botanical Center. That’s fair; it was the Botanical Center for a long time! But it’s important for the public to know that the Botanical Garden’s footprint has expanded far beyond that of the original Botanical Center and now incorporates 12 acres of beautifully developed outdoor gardens.
Welcome to your Garden!
The DMMC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and collaborative movement committed to building a stronger and more diverse music community in greater Des Moines. Through its mission to support and cultivate Iowa’s music economy, DMMC’s vision is to establish and maintain Des Moines as a nationally recognized music city.
“We want to ensure our community knows that 80/35 is a unique festival—as a nonprofit, proceeds from the festival are reinvested back into the community. Most of the stages are free and we keep the ticket price at a level where our community can afford to attend.”
Founded in 2005, the DMMC leverages its two staff and 500 volunteers to serve musicians, music industry members, youth participants and music audiences across central Iowa, reaching 25,000 people annually. In addition to its annual events (80/35 Festival, founded 2008; Gross Domestic Product (GDP) all-Iowa music festival; and industry education program Music University), DMMC’s next major project will be the unveiling of a large-scale study of the music ecosystem of Des Moines.
Iowa Abortion Access Fund (IAAF) is dedicated to the belief that the freedom to choose legal abortion should be available to everyone. Founded in 1978 in Cedar Rapids, IAAF is the second-oldest abortion fund in the U.S. Every year, IAAF helps hundreds of Iowa and Quad Cities residents who would otherwise not be able to afford an abortion. In the past three years, IAAF has provided over $300K in assistance to residents of Iowa and the Quad Cities region, serving an average of 479 callers per year (2019-2021).
The sole function of IAAF is to provide funds to callers who need support paying for a safe abortion. IAAF coordinates with clinic staff to confirm the appointment and sends payment directly to the clinic to be applied to the caller’s bill. Community support makes this work possible. Aside from one part-time staff member, IAAF is entirely volunteer-run. One-time gifts and sustaining monthly support are the best ways to support their mission to ensure reproductive freedom and access for all. Learn more or contribute today at their website.
One Iowa, a Des Moines-based nonprofit serving LGBTQ Iowans since 2005, seeks to improve the lives of LGBTQ Iowans by protecting and advancing equality and inclusiveness through education, improving workplace culture and increasing access to quality healthcare across the state.
One Iowa takes a comprehensive approach to ensure LGBTQ Iowans are respected in every facet and stage of their lives. The organization trains workplaces and healthcare facilities on LGBTQ best practices, provide inclusive resources to LGBTQ folks across the state, work with community partners to ensure the work it does is rooted in intersectionality and prioritize efforts to serve trans and nonbinary Iowans.
With five staff members, and serving 10-15,000 clients each year, One Iowa is in the beginning stages of planning a Midwest LGBTQ Health and Wellness Conference for Fall 2023 that will bring healthcare professionals from around the region together to learn how to best serve LGBTQ patients.
Des Moines Film is dedicated to growing the film culture in Des Moines, now through the operation of Varsity Cinema. Founded in 2015, the org serves 62,000 film lovers of all ages annually. Ten staff and 25 volunteers facilitate the upcoming full-time operations of Varsity Cinema, Des Moines’ community art house cinema, located in Drake Dogtown Neighborhood.
Originally built in 1917, the Varsity represents decades of cinema history in Des Moines. It’s one of the oldest art house theaters in the U.S.
Des Moines, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, Cedar Falls, Davenport
Do you ship? Yes
Get your own, then tell it what to do ($24) For over 10 years, this shirt has been raising money for Planned Parenthood North Central States as well as Access Funds in the Midwest. Unfortunately, we seem to be going in the wrong direction, in a lot of ways. Wear this shirt, or support reproductive health directly with your money or vote!
505 East Grand Ave. Suite 102, Des Moines, Iowa 50309
Do you ship? Yes
Storyhouse Book B*tch Bundle (Price range: $45-70) Bundle three of our favorite Storyhouse reads that capture the wild freedom of becoming our truest selves and savoring only the coziest stories. Booksellers are here to recommend from a selection and bundle together for the perfect gift or self-care package.
Fontenelle Supply Co.
524 E Grand Ave, Des Moines, Iowa, 50309
Do you ship? Yes
Standard Camp Belt ($70)
Heavy-duty leather meets heavy-duty hardware. The result is the last belt you’ll ever need. We use 9-10oz Hermann Oak Leather from Missouri, and our hardware is solid brass casted in the USA. Our easy-to-use sizing instructions make this a perfect gift.
LV readers: Use code “FIRSTTIMER” for 15% off online orders
900 Keosauqua Way, Des Moines, Iowa, 50309
Do you ship? Contact artists for shipping information
HANDMADE HOLIDAYS AT MAINFRAME STUDIOS Support local artists and shop the studios at Mainframe. Contact artists online for purchase, or attend holiday shopping events on Nov. 4, Nov. 26, Dec. 2 or Dec. 17. Find artist information at mainframestudios.org/artists.