Dear Donors,

What has been your most memorable gift? I’ve been fortunate to have several that were unique, but there are certain ones that stand out. It’s more so because of the giver and why they gave the gift in the first place. When my son was first diagnosed with autism, my grandmother knew it was financially tough for us to pay for therapy, a special preschool, medicine, and even more expensive groceries. Each month, I’d find a gift from her in my mailbox to help us fund it all. More than fifteen years later, I see the impact those gifts made in person. My son is in a typical classroom, making good grades and looking forward to a future in computer science. Down deep, my Nana knew that her gift would make a difference, and it did.

That’s the fulfillment I want for each of you as you choose to give to Civitan International. Since 2017, we’ve been working to make sure you do see the difference you are making. There’s been a lot to do at world headquarters to ensure the most money is going to our mission, instead of ourselves. With the guidance and support of our International Board of Directors, we have accomplished a lot for the benefit of the organization and its flagship project, the Civitan International Research Center.

Our gift to that center reflecting this past fiscal year will amount to $440,000 which gets us to less than half a million dollars from satisfying our original pledge for this purpose made back in 1989. We’re now giving around $50,000 more annually to the CIRC than we did before 2017 thanks to some overdue changes to fundraising and operational expenses.

One place that saw change in the last few years has been the Civitan International Break-thru. Our 2019 golf tournament presented by Exfluor and the Foundation for Children with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities brought in $214,984 which mostly came through direct donations from Civitan clubs. In recent years, the event is averaging just under 50 players compared to the 80 to 90 it garnered previously. However, with cutting expenses by more than 50% over the last two years and securing more than $70,000 in sponsorship and matched gifts, we are able to sustain the event’s impact on our giving to the CIRC.

Other accomplishments related to our support of the CIRC include reducing what we spend on carrying out the fundraisers held by our Junior Civitans. That action gives us the ability to give more of what’s raised to our mission. In 2019, Dance-a-thon was for the first time ever combined with our Junior Civitan International Convention. Not only did it triple the participants, but it also netted just over $41,000 to benefit the CIRC. The expense ratio for the 2019 event was 8%, when in years past it had been as high as 24%. We could not have done this without the support of our Civitan clubs that give to the participants as well as the adaptability of our Juniors and their advisors and chairs.

The other event the Juniors carry out passionately to benefit our flagship project saw radical changes this year. We raised the most ever for Sno-Do 2019, garnering $71,893. But sadly, transportation trouble and a last-minute lodging emergency added to already staggering costs to carry out the event. Our International Board boldly voted to transform this event for the future and we’re excited to report the first All In Summit was successfully carried out last month!

Aside from our event fundraising, one of the largest ways our clubs and members give to our flagship project is donating to the Civitans at the Helm program. Close to $110 thousand was given from our clubs in North America in 2019, with our European clubs giving an additional thirteen thousand dollars.

Through your support of this effort, Dr. Powell and his team at the Civitan International Research Center continued to make great strides this year.


“As we at the Civitan International Research Center renew our commitment to Civitan International for the coming decades, we have developed an aspirational vision for the future. In addition to world-class clinical care and outstanding laboratory research, we aim to provide genuine hope for future treatments that will transform the lives of children around the globe. Through the Civitan Translational Autism/NDD Research Core, we will provide opportunities to include every child in patient-centered research, next-generation genetic analysis, and precision medicine approaches to treatment.

We aim to build the most complete patient registry, clinical database, and biorepository for neurodevelopmental disorders in the country, a resource that will benefit not only the scientists at the Civitan International Research Center, but researchers everywhere. By identifying specific genetic and environmental causes of neurodevelopmental disorders for each individual, we aim to harness the potential of future gene therapies, drug development, and therapies of which we have not yet dreamed. We honor your past and future contributions to the Civitan International Research Center, as well as your personal efforts on our behalf, through our daily struggle to make a difference in the lives of every individual we are blessed to see.

Civitan International and your Civitan International Research Center have contributed so many outstanding advancements in neurodevelopmental disorders research and touched countless individual lives. Our relationship is central to our shared mission to provide first-rate care now and hope for the future to children and their families. Words cannot adequately express our gratitude for all that you have helped us to accomplish. We will aim even higher in the coming decades as we renew our commitment to the ideals that Civitans around the world embody on behalf of the children who represent our best hope for a better tomorrow.”

As many of you know, support for the Civitan International Research Center began with a small piece of candy. Today, the program that has North American clubs leaving boxes of mints at a restaurant or store checkout line brings in around $150,000. Nearly $40K of that stays at the local club level for projects to support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We know it’s just one way these clubs are changing lives for the better in their communities.

Civitans in North America also helped us achieve a goal that will lead to a brighter future for the organization. The Light The Way campaign was created to build an operating reserve for Civitan. In 2019, $28,264 was raised and set aside to one day help with financial storms. That’s nearly $7,000 more than the year before, in which the campaign started. I’m overwhelmed by the generosity of our members to make sure Civitan is viable, especially considering you all give to so many things that are a part of that legacy.

When I think of that legacy, my mind instantly goes to Junior Civitan. Civitan International uses your donations to support this program and its many facets, including the Shropshire Scholarship program. In 2019, we gave out $17,750 in these awards to deserving high schoolers to help with their secondary education.

Marissa Lott is a recent graduate of Northeast High School in Clarksville, Tennessee, and was a 2019 Shropshire Scholarship recipient. She was an active Junior Civitan from the 6th grade to her senior year of high school. “There were so many opportunities that I was fortunate enough to partake in through Junior Civitan,” Marissa shared with us. We all know what a big transition college is, and having the Civitan scholarship has taken some stress off Marissa. “Moving away from the town I have lived in for the majority of my life is already intimidating. Not having to worry about whether or not I could manage it monetarily has allowed me to focus on other pertinent areas in this time of my life,” Marissa told us. “My first semester of college has been an incredible, challenging, and exciting time. I am involved on campus through our Freshmen Senate, a branch of Student Government. I am blessed to have been elected President, and I spend most of my time when not studying or working on leading that organization. I have used the skills Junior Civitan has taught me to succeed in that position, and I find it very fulfilling.”

All of these efforts take the support of our membership but also some dedicated staff. The biggest way we fund our philanthropy team is through the President’s Council. It’s an annual giving program supported by 920 members throughout the world. Thanks to the $108,678 that came in through this program in 2019, we were able to maintain staff who create relationships that become sponsors, plan the fundraising events that benefit the CIRC, and develop programs that help keep Civitan’s future bright. Click here for the complete list of President’s Council Donors.

Nearly three years ago we celebrated a century of Civitan. The last few dozen months have been a lot of work to be fully prepared for the next. Many of the successes mentioned here are part of a greater plan to move the organization forward, called Renew by 2022. But there is a tremendous amount of more work to do. For more on our giving programs not mentioned and our financial outcomes for 2019, click here.

I believe that our world needs Civitan more than even before and we have some incredible donors and members who see that too. Your dedication to our cause and our mission will be the key to our future success. It’s that same giving spirit displayed by my Nana when she consistently placed that gift in the mailbox so many years ago to my family. It’s a spirit that can’t be taken for granted, and I hope you know we will never do so.

Thank you always for your unwavering support of Civitan International.


Scarlet Thompson Executive Vice President