The Old Bill’s giving season was good to the Teton County Health Department Family Planning Clinic.

Health Department Director Jodie Pond said the agency netted $86,000 from the annual fundraiser, a substantial increase over last year and the most it has ever received. After receiving just over $40,000 last year, the Health Department set a goal of $75,000 for this year, exceeding that aim by 15%.

“We’ve been able to expand our services based on the generosity of our donor community,” Pond said.

The increase in fundraising was important because earlier this year the Health Department decided to opt out of federal Title X funding, which left a roughly $29,000 hole in its budget. The federal program provides money for family planning services for low-income families, but a recent Trump administration rule that prevented grantees from giving patients information on abortion providers was the final motivation for the Health Department to drop the program.

With a small fraction of its overall budget coming from Title X, and high administrative costs to administer the grant, Pond and department staff felt Title X was no longer an effective funding method. However, the services provided through the grant are critical to low-income families, and Pond wanted to continue offering them.

“I suppose there was a philosophical alignment with our donor community,” Pond said. “They stepped up and helped us fill the gap.”

The Health Department’s fundraising is a bit hampered, compared with nonprofits that participate in Old Bill’s, because all county departments split the matching funds. Pond said the high level of fundraising without a full match shows community support in the department’s mission.

“People want to see women space their births and have control over when they have children,” she said. “When we talk about what we do, it rings home with a lot of people.”

The agency is in part buoyed by its location. Eschewing Title X funding was possible only because the department was confident donors would step up, but other Title X grantees around the state may not have the luck.

In communities that are less affluent, departments may not have philanthropy to fall back on, meaning they must take Title X funding, even with the limitations the federal government puts on recipients.

“Some clinics get local support, and some do not,” said Gail Wilson, family planning director at the Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department, a Title X grantee. “Not every community has the ability to give like Teton County.”

Contact Tom Hallberg at 732-7079 or thallberg@jhnewsandguide.com.

Tom Hallberg covers a little bit of everything, from skiing to long-form feature stories. A Teton Valley, Idaho, transplant by way of Portland and Bend, Oregon, he spends his time outside work writing fiction, splitboarding and climbing.

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