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.
In order to start your endowment campaign you should pursue one or more of the following catalysts to get your endowment building started. Catalysts can be used to motivate the public as well as the Fund Advisory Committee and create excitement around a fundraising campaign.
Challenge grants are grants that an individual or corporate donor makes to the community by pledging to grant up to a certain amount once the community meets a specific goal. For example, a challenge grant could be issued by the local telephone company, which agrees to gift $5,000 to the local community fund for every $10,000 they raise for their unrestricted endowment. Read more about the steps to meet a challenge grant.
Sharing your endowment-building goals with a wide range of individuals in your community can help jump-start your endowment campaign. Consider running a weekly or monthly update in your local newspaper, sending a notice of your endowment-building efforts to alumni, holding community information sessions, or running regular spots on the radio.
Starting “Founders” or “Builders” clubs for your endowment account is an easy and fun way of including a large number of people in your endowment-building efforts. These clubs encourage many people to get involved. Many communities use a $1,000 donation as the giving level for founding members, but the level can be set at any amount. Often, affiliated funds allow their founders to make pledges that are paid over a multi-year time frame. View sample Founders Club Materials (giving levels, pledge card, brochure).
Community celebrations are wonderful ways of creating excitement around your community fund and its endowment-building goals. Invite the entire community and plan a program that is both informative and fun. Giving grants at these celebrations always adds to their appeal, raises awareness and inspires new donors. By giving new grants it makes what you are trying to accomplish for your community a tangible reality, not just a theory, to all who see it either in person at the event or through media outlets after the event. Provide a meal or refreshments to increase the appeal of the celebration and encourage attendance. Read more about events.
Encouraging local citizens to become dues paying members in the local affiliated fund is a proven method of building a wide base of awareness, involvement and support.
Affordable annual dues allow local people of all income categories to get involved. The membership list creates a mailing list so the members can be sent newsletters, updates and marketing information. Paying annual dues gets citizens into the “habit of giving” which can lead to large planned gifts from estates.
Encourage FAC leaders and other community members to give memorial gifts to your affiliated fund’s endowment in lieu of flowers or other memorials when members of your community pass away. People can make a lasting gift by sending a card to the family stating that a memorial was given in honor of the deceased. See a sample letter of condolence.
Also consider having envelopes printed and supplied to local funeral homes that encourage individuals to memorialize their loved ones through gifts to the community endowment instead of flowers. See a sample funeral home insert and envelope.
You can also encourage individuals in your community to honor their friends and loved ones with a gift to the affiliated fund endowment. See a sample letter of congratulations.
If you have questions about how any of these catalysts might work for your affiliated fund contact your development staff member or the NCF office .
McCook Community Foundation Fund advisory committee members say that leadership recruitment is the key to continuing success. Stan Goodwin said, “We’re advocates of making this group representative of the community in terms of gender, age and economic status. No one has their own specific agenda. They’re just focused on the welfare of the community.”Read more →