Howells family’s legacy sets an example for young Nebraskans

It takes gifts of all sizes to create community success, but when young adults see million-dollar gifts in the news, they may feel like any amount they can give pales in comparison. Austin Coufal of Howells knows that’s not the case.

“Anyone can be a philanthropist,” he said, referencing a quote often shared in NCF circles. “The amount of money does not determine who is a philanthropist. A philanthropist is anybody who cares about a cause and wants to give—whether now or into the future.”

Existing Howells Community Fund volunteers recruited Coufal in January of 2018. As the youngest member at the time, he brought a valuable perspective to the group. The fund remains committed to including members from all backgrounds represented in the community.

“If you have individuals from all aspects of life and spread out that knowledge, you can narrow down what you need most,” he said.

The fund’s mission to create long-term change by inspiring community generosity appealed to Coufal and his wife, Kelsey.

“If there’s any organization out there I believe in, it’s this one,” he said. “We don’t help out just one cause. This helps out everything in the community.”

There are ample reasons for his continued involvement with the fund, but it all comes down to making life better for his neighbors. He was raised in Howells, where he works now as an insurance agent, taking pride in his work, just like his involvement on the advisory committee. He also volunteers for the local fire and rescue department. Coufal’s generosity is indicative of the entire community.

“The people here are some of the most selfless people out there,” Coufal said. “Anytime something needs to be done, everyone steps up. My friends are here, my family’s here. I always know we have each other’s backs through good times and bad.”

During the process of setting up their wills and trusts, the Coufals were inspired by their work with the fund to make a bequest in their will to benefit Howells Community Fund. The young couple doesn’t yet have the donating capacity of more established residents, but a planned gift is an avenue to ensure they still leave a lasting impact.

“We’re young, and we don’t have a lot of money to give,” Coufal said. “This is our way of always giving back to the community and knowing that this community is going to be taken care of in the future.”

Only about four of every 10 American adults have a will or living trust. For many, the task may appear daunting or difficult to broach. But 68% percent of respondents in Giving USA’s 2019 Special Report described their estate planning process as very easy or somewhat easy. Coufal concurs.

“It was the simplest thing we’ve ever done,” he said. “My wife and I put it off for a while, but it was one of those things that we just needed to get done.”

A bequest is generally a revocable gift, which means it can be changed or modified at any time. Bequests can be used for a general or specific purpose so you have the peace of mind knowing that your gift will be used as intended.

It’s never too early to get your estate planning in order, Coufal said. It’s simple, quick, and he recommends it to all Nebraskans.

“Even though you’re young doesn’t mean you can’t give,” he said. “You can give into the future by setting up a bequest. You don’t have to give right now. You can always make sure your community is taken care of.”

Reach out to your professional advisor to learn how you can give and consult Nebraska Community Foundation’s Planned Giving resources for more information. You can also contact NCF’s Office of Gift Planning by calling 402-323-7330 or sending an email to

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