Jeff Yost: Communities are built with capital and trust

By Jeff Yost

This holiday season, when we’re thinking about what charitable causes we might want to support at year end, the first to come to mind are the ones we’re already most connected to, typically church, service groups and community organizations. Why? Because we’re already in the habit of supporting those causes with our time, talent and treasure. We are most connected because what we co-produce we ultimately co-own. And the greater the sense of collective ownership the more rooted we are in our community. Think of the many benefits this virtuous cycle of co-production and co-ownership creates for residents and the community at large.

Today, our number one community economic development priority in Nebraska must be people attraction – giving people compelling reasons to move back, move to, or remain in our communities. People are attracted to opportunities, optimism and connection. And they’re attracted to being invited to be productive together and share their gifts and dreams with their neighbors.

People often ask me “What will attract young people and young families to want to join us in our community?” I don’t know. You’ll have to ask them. Have the conversation. And when you learn the answer, ask them to co-produce it with you. When you do it together, you own it together. And that’s what builds trusting relationships and ultimately strong, future-focused communities.

Leadership development guru Kathleen Allen states: “Trust is both the glue that holds relationships together and the grease that helps us get things done.”

Communities with high levels of trust are magnets that attract investment and capital. Investments and capital (mainly money and people) are drawn to certainty. Trust builds certainty. And certainty attracts capital.

At Nebraska Community Foundation our mission is community building from the ground up. We unleash abundant local assets, inspire charitable giving and connect ambitious people to build stronger communities and a Greater Nebraska. This process is rooted in and built on trust and relationships.

The NCF network is growing rapidly, now benefitting 258 Nebraska hometowns in 82 counties. Over $107 million is now endowed for Nebraska hometowns. Nearly 10,000 donors made gifts last year. And over $355 million has been reinvested in our hometowns in 25 years.

Wise deployment of these new philanthropic resources is helping to fuel a growing number of young families moving to Greater Nebraska. In 53 counties the number of people in their 30s and 40s is on the rise and smart communities are investing in ways to attract and keep them.

Throughout Nebraska we have plenty of financial capital to continue to fund amazing community economic development and build endowments for the future. Studies of the intergenerational transfer of wealth prove this. Millions, even billions, are being transferred from generation to generation in or near your hometown every year. What are you doing to invite those prospective donors (investors) into a conversation about their hopes and dreams for “our” hometown? We co-own what we co-produce.

This holiday season, as you’re thinking about what you’re grateful for and what your hopes and dreams for the future are, please reach out to a friend or family member and engage them in a conversation about your shared future and the future of your hometown. Dream together. Build trust. Co-produce. It’s one of the most important things you can do this year.