Looking back and looking forward

Originally published in the Columbus Telegram

As I’ve done in my previous column for nearly 20 years, today we’ll share some New Year’s wishes and resolutions as we transition to a new year.

It is a complete mystery to me how it can be 2020. Using that date as our theme, let’s hope the new year brings clear vision for communities, for our leaders, for all of us.

First up, a new year’s wish for the Columbus Area Future Fund and Howells Community Fund that they bring their current campaigns to a successful conclusion. Both are part of the group of communities entering the final year of a challenge grant from the Sherwood Foundation. Both are resolved that a year from now, they will have added $500,000 to their unrestricted endowment which would be matched with $250,000 from the Sherwood Foundation. That would mean around $1-million in both those endowments, bringing nearly $50,000 every year, forever, to both these communities.

For the Boone County Foundation Fund, the resolution is a successful completion of their effort to raise funds to launch the Boone Beginnings early childhood development center. In responding to the fact that 90 percent of Boone County residents say they’re concerned about a lack of childcare, the Boone County Fund is showing local philanthropy can respond to a variety of needs and opportunities identified by their hometowns.

In Butler County, I know the Fund is resolved to continue on their path toward impactful grant-making. As their giving capacity has increased, these volunteers have become ever more intentional about changing the future of Butler County with their grant-making. I think 2020 will bring them another step forward toward being proactive, thoughtful, strategic, and transformational.

As I consider the new year for greater Nebraska in 2020, I’m going to submit to you a wish for increased partnership that leads to steps forward on some key issues. The new year is going to bring really unique opportunities to partner through the structure of Blueprint Nebraska and through burgeoning relationships between the Nebraska Community Foundation and other statewide “players.” It is my hope (and expectation) that 2020 is the year we see serious, tangible progress on those universal Nebraska issues like people attraction, broadband, childcare, and housing. I believe NCF funds, including funds in this region, are going to serve as pilots or “laboratories” that help discover those solutions that will then spread across greater Nebraska. It’s going for these volunteers and NCF to be exciting to be on the front lines of moving Nebraska forward!

And finally, my “big picture” New Year’s wish is that people across Nebraska and around the nation rediscover the age-old truths that it’s “better to give than receive” and that helping others actually helps ourselves. For this one, there is data to back it up. Gallup’s rural poll over many years finds that people report a higher level of “well-being” when they depend on others and have other people who depend on them. Put simply, the “joy of giving” is real! And the really good news? That concern for others translates into serious benefits for us individually: people with a high level of “well-being” are more likely to get involved in tacking community issues, they’re more productive in their jobs, and in fact, they have measurably stronger hearts and immune systems! So there you go, give back to others in the new year and you’ll be giving yourself the gift of more happiness and even better health!

Happy New Year! Here’s to a year that brings focus and then positive movement to the range of opportunities in front of all of us who call greater Nebraska our home!