KC Belitz: Great example of inspiring change

Originally published in the Columbus Telegram

There is a group of volunteers in Butler County preparing to change the future of their place! The Butler County Area Foundation Fund (BCAFF) recently completed “Impact Planning,” a three-session training that sets out a path to create positive change in their place.

The Nebraska Community Foundation network has been growing and evolving for 26 years and Impact Planning is a reflection of that evolution. As NCF affiliated funds have grown their financial capacity, some of their attention has naturally turned to making maximum positive impact on their place with those dollars.

NCF recognized that priority with the establishment of this goal in the NCF Strategic Framework: “Affiliated Funds are using payout from their unrestricted endowment to create positive change that otherwise may not occur.” In pursuit of that goal, NCF created Impact Planning to equip local committees with the tools to do just that by learning deeply about themselves, their communities and how best to use philanthropy to create change.

BCAFF has gone through a nearly two-year process to complete those steps. At the final session, the committee learned about itself through a self-survey and some really good discussion. As the committee goes through membership transition, they took the time to learn what each other thinks, what they care about and what they want to accomplish.

The group then learned about their places by considering some interesting local data that could be used to inform grant-making. For example, while overall county population declined last decade, did you know that Butler County saw a 10% increase in 15- to 24-year-olds during that time? Or that average weekly wages in the County have doubled since 2001?

Finally, the committee went to work, using this knowledge and their own discussion to inform goal-setting in four areas that NCF has learned are critical to success. The BCAFF is going to pursue these goals:

  • Grow our Unrestricted Endowment and Build Donor Relationships (their goal is a $4-million endowment in three years!)
  • Complete a Strategic Plan for Communications
  • Cultivate and Grow Leadership of BCAFF
  • Move toward proactive, impactful grantmaking with community partners

Starting in May, the committee will begin fleshing out these goals with action items. From what we’ve already heard in their discussions, I can guarantee they will take action to achieve these goals in the near term.

My observation is the BCAFF is a dynamic mix of new and experienced leadership. This is almost always the ideal combination and will serve Butler County well. This team, having now completed Impact Planning, will be pursuing significant county-wide conversations to find areas to truly make a difference. Hats off to Committee Chair Kent Clymer and the entire fund advisory committee for making the commitment and doing the work of community-building in Butler County!

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