The Nebraska Community Foundation works with community, organizational and donor-advised affiliated funds serving 250 communities located in 80 counties. NCF and its affiliated funds have reinvested $269 million in Nebraska since 1994.
With NCF’s affiliated funds, there is a systematic process of setting up an account, getting organized and fundraising for projects. However, the ultimate goal for every community foundation is to build an unrestricted endowment.
NCF provides affiliated funds with a tool called “The Steps to Build an Endowment Fund.” This handout is typically printed on gold paper because it is the gold standard for an affiliated fund working to build an unrestricted endowment.
FAC members often lead the charge in building endowments, but occasionally a donor will put up the first large challenge grant. Building an endowment takes a plan of action. It just doesn’t happen on its own. FAC members need to have a vision and mission and they need to have leaders who will make donor visitations. It is all about harnessing the transfer of wealth that is happening in Nebraska’s rural communities on a daily basis.
The steps to building an endowment fund are fairly consistent among communities, however fundraising tactics differ dramatically. In Diller, a gift of livestock was presented as an Endowment Challenge to the Diller Community Foundation Fund, which gave the community the motivation it needed to start fundraising. Over the next four years, this truckload of cattle worth $50,000 was leveraged to build a $200,000 endowment in a town of just 287 people.
The Diller FAC members accomplished this goal by collecting pledges and donations from local community members and alumni. In addition, they solicited planned gifts. One young community member contributed to the long-term endowment goal by purchasing a $10,000 life insurance policy and naming the Diller Community Foundation Fund as the owner and beneficiary. Thus, the premiums on the policy were tax deductible. His father saw the gesture and did the same thing with a larger policy.
Everyone is able to contribute in some way to building this valuable asset. The FAC focused on building a broad base of donors, with no contribution being too small. With a plan and the right motivation, Diller’s FAC members met their initial goal and have created an endowment with the help of the entire community.
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