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.
More than $13 million in new charitable contributions to community-based, unrestricted endowments.
This is the financial goal for Nebraska Community Foundation’s partnership with 25 of its community-based affiliated funds through an initiative which began in 2012 and will continue through 2020.
Equally important are the skills, the knowledge and relationships developing among dozens of leaders, with the long-term goal of building collaborative partnerships for progress across communities and regions in Nebraska.
In 2012, four Nebraska Community Foundation affiliated funds ‒ McCook, Nebraska City, Norfolk and Shickley ‒ became partners in Round 1 of a new NCF initiative, Building Community Capacity in Rural Nebraska. The program offered challenge grants of up to $250,000 provided by The Sherwood Foundation of Omaha to build local, unrestricted endowments for each fund. It required a two-to-one match of $500,000 in local contributions by the end of 2015. It also required affiliated fund leaders to delve deeply into the practice of rural development philanthropy.
The four communities are diverse in population and geography, and in their experience with fundraising. With a population of 341, Shickley was the smallest community selected for the first round, however, leaders there had been highly successful with past fundraising efforts. More than half of the households in the school district contribute to the Shickley Community Foundation Fund. “Our strong relationship with NCF made moving forward with the campaign much easier,” said Dan Miller of Shickley.
Over the course of the challenge period, NCF provided support to volunteer fund leaders in the form of campaign design studies, marketing materials and training in donor development. NCF organized and facilitated six multi-day peer-learning sessions and other training events to help the volunteer leaders explore how to use philanthropy to create communities of choice that attract “newcomers, returners and stayers.”
“I think the concepts of asset-based community development and rural development philanthropy should be in every leadership training experience for rural communities,” said Dale Dueland, a member of the McCook Community Foundation Fund.
“We need to figure out how we transition leadership and this culture that we have created,” said Tammy Day of Norfolk.
Nebraska Community Foundation is proud to report that each of the Round 1 affiliated funds has met or exceeded its goal. Together, these rural places have boosted their unrestricted endowments by more than $2 million. These endowed funds will remain in intact and continue to grow for generations. Soon the endowments will generate an additional $90,000 for annual grantmaking for youth programs, childcare, recreation, wellness and more. As the endowments grow, so will the annual earnings from the investments. This will increase the payout available for grantmaking each year.
Nebraska Community Foundation and The Sherwood Foundation anticipated a successful outcome early into Round 1 of the Building Capacity in Rural Nebraska initiative. In 2014, a committee made up of Round 1 volunteers selected four additional community-based funds for a second round of challenge grants and peer learning. They are now in the early stages of launching their public campaigns.
In 2015 the partnership welcomed Peter Kiewit Foundation as an additional supporting partner for a third round of the Building Community Capacity in Rural Nebraska initiative. A committee of Round 1 volunteers has selected five affiliated fund applicants to participate in Round 3.
Last fall NCF announced a new initiative through which 12 additional community-based affiliated funds will launch local campaigns to match, 2-to-1, challenge grants of $100,000, also provided through The Sherwood Foundation. NCF will provide these community leaders with extra training, marketing and leadership support as they proceed through their endowment-building campaigns to raise their $200,000 match.
Building Community Capacity in Rural Nebraska has enabled Nebraska Community Foundation to create a practice that employs a theory of change based on acknowledging abundance in rural Nebraska, local decision making, trusting relationships and the power of our hometowns.
“Our thinking has shifted from just raising funds to creating a culture of giving, building social capital, making impactful grants and looking long-term to making our community the best it can be,” said Peggy Been of McCook.
“The opportunities we’ve had through this initiative have been tremendous,” said Dave Partsch of Nebraska City. “There needs to be a continuing learning process,”
Working together and learning together as a team, NCF staff, community volunteers and private foundation funders have deepened the understanding that it’s about more than just the money. It’s about the change individuals have the power to bring to their hometowns.
A life-long interest in Bloomfield’s early history and county fair activities led a former Bloomfield-area resident, the late Robert Harm of Richardson, Texas, to make generous gifts to the Bloomfield Community Historical Society and to construct the Harm and Tulleys Agriculture Center, a multi-purpose agriculture center at the Knox County Fairgrounds. His donations continued a long history of giving by Harm’s family to the Knox County community.Read more →