The value of partnership

Originally published in the Columbus Telegram

The reaction continues as philanthropy and Nebraska hometowns respond to the pandemic. I was pleased to share last week with local affiliates of the Nebraska Community Foundation the latest opportunity to make a difference for our neighbors.

An anonymous donor and the Alice DeVoe Donor-Advised Fund, an affiliated fund of Nebraska Community Foundation, are providing matching grants to NCF affiliated funds to keep patients and residents better connected with family and friends during this pandemic.

It is easy to understand how isolated some of these folks could be feeling, as visitors are not allowed in these facilities at this point. This is one of the many ways in which this public health reality creates associated mental, social, and economic impacts. While those “associated impacts” may or may not be as obvious, they will be very real long-term. As such, I’m pleased to see opportunities like this presented to hometowns in greater Nebraska.

Our assumption is that they can use these funds to purchase electronic devices like an iPad that residents could use to connect with their family and friends…all those people who were visiting in person early in March. In addition, funds could also be used for complementary equipment, installation, training, and compensation for related staff time to help make good use of the technology.

The applicant for these matching grants will be an affiliated fund of NCF, so we have several local options including the Columbus Area Future Fund. The local fund will then decide how best to use those resources in their own community. Of course, there are rules about spending charitable dollars so grants from affiliated funds will be given to hospitals, assisted living, nursing home facilities or aging agencies and these healthcare and aging organizations must a be 501(c)(3) non-profit or owned and operated by a local government political subdivision, like a municipality or county.

This fund from NCF is offering grants of up to $2,500 per affiliated fund and they will be matched 1:1 so this will put up to $5,000 into the community represented by each fund. Local funds will have until the end of the calendar year to use these grants. We’ve intentionally kept the guidelines and application process both broad and brief, so money can be put to work quickly and in as many places as it can be helpful. While I’m clearly biased, I have to say I’m proud of this approach to try to put money to work instead of creating barriers to granting it.

The hope is that this matching opportunity is not just a chance to find some dollars but also encourages many of us to do what we can to reach out to our neighbors in these facilities. In fact, you might not need to spend anything but your time to really make a difference. Write a note, make a phone call, make a video call with this new technology, or if it’s a nice day stop by and chat through a window.

We cannot overstate how impactful this sort of effort is to our neighbors who are now isolated! This grant is a chance to wrap our communities’ arms around our neighbors.

This is one more example of the value of the partnership between our region and the statewide NCF network. Thanks to the volunteers who have brought and sustain these NCF affiliated funds in our region so we have these resources available.