• Plough Foundation shutting down after decades of granting millions to local nonprofits

    By: Leah Jordan

    Updated:

    MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The Plough Foundation announced it will permanently close its doors and cease operations in four years.

    The Plough Foundation has granted more than $300 million to all kinds of nonprofit organizations in the Mid-South since 1960. 

    Needless to say, the nonprofits that received that money may feel a void when the foundation goes away. 

    FOX13 Investigates dug through years of 990 forms to learn which organizations benefitted from the Plough Foundation. One is the Mid-South Food Bank.

    "We are very grateful for them, and they've also helped us get into this building with our capital campaign," president and CEO Cathy Pope said.


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    She said Plough provided funding for all of the food bank's coolers and freezers in their brand new facility. 

    She said when Plough closes, a void will need to be filled.

    "We really just want to encourage people to come and visit the food bank, visit the facility, and see what they can do to play a part to help those in need," Pope said.

    And the food bank certainly isn't the only nonprofit organization that will feel their absence. 

    FOX13 spoke with more than a handful of organizations on the phone Wednesday, including David Jordan, the CEO of Agape Child & Family Services.

    "I respect their decision to begin a sunsetting process. Memphis is a city with significant giving. While we're not a city with a lot of foundations like Plough, we have a lot of family foundations," Jordan said. "There will be a sense of loss, but this is a grit and grind city. My call would be for individuals and families - as has been going on - to continue giving in that fashion."  

    Rick Masson, the executive director of the Plough Foundation, didn't provide specific insight as to the rationale behind the closure. 

    He said the reason they announced the closure early was to give the nonprofits plenty of time to prepare.

    "The time was right for the decision to be made. Throughout our grant making, we look and work with nonprofits on sustainability plans, that's always been a part of the grant making. I think that's the main thing the for nonprofits to focus on," Masson said. "We're proud of the work we've done. We've given $300 million throughout the community. 

    "Anyone can check our website at any time, but certainly in the spring when more information on the spin down is posted." 

    Currently, the Plough Foundation website has a memo regarding the upcoming closure. But Masson said the website will continue to be updated with new information as they learn more. 

    Another nonprofit that FOX13 spoke with is Temple Israel. Rabbi Micah Greenstein, the Senior Rabbi, offered this statement:

    "Abe Plough, Temple Israel's honorary President, gave this region's largest synagogue our motto: ‘you do the greatest good when you help the greatest number of people, no matter who they are, where they're from, or what they have.' The Plough Foundation may be closing but its impact is definitely not time-bound; it is timeless. Since the 1970s, the Plough Foundation has been a role model for the greater good." 

    That sentiment seems to echo among all the grant recipients FOX13 spoke with.

    "We're just very grateful to what they've meant to us but also what they've meant to the community," Pope said.

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