By Reggi Carlson
Communications Director Nebraska Community Foundation
Nebraska Community Foundation (NCF) has much to celebrate. In its 20-year existence, they have stimulated $222 million for reinvestment into Nebraska communities by working with hometown leaders, using philanthropy as a tool for progress.
NCF connects people and inspires them to think big, acting as a catalyst for revitalization. They recognize that strong progressive communities can only be built and sustained by the people that live and work there.
By helping volunteer community leaders identify local assets and strengths, they provide support in crafting visions and plans to improve and sustain hometowns.
“Regardless of where we live, all Nebraskans should consider how they can make their contribution to the future of their hometowns – the one they live in today and perhaps the one they grew up in, ” said Doug Bereuter, 1979-2004 member of Congress and Nebraska Community Foundation board member.
Currently, NCF partners with community, organizational and donor-advised affiliated funds to serve more than 250 communities in 77 Nebraska counties. All grant-making decisions are made at the local level by volunteer affiliated fund leaders.
Nebraska Community Foundation enables communities to build and endow their own charitable assets in ways that encourage people, especially young people, to want to live, work and raise their families close to home.
Nebraska Community Foundation is turning up the dream switch in communities as small as Burr (pop. 66) and as large as Norfolk.
The Imperial Community Foundation Fund, formed in 1999 as an affiliated fund of NCF, has granted more than a quarter-million dollars for childhood enrichment, senior citizen services, science camps, a housing needs study, young adult leadership courses, education, medical education, hospital enhancement, safety programs, park improvements and more.
It supports the efforts to encourage young people to move back. More than 98 percent of the Fund’s $771,000 in assets is endowed. Other regional foundations have used the Fund as a trusted partner in distributing charitable gifts to local causes.
Currently serving on the Imperial fund advisory committee are Chairman Elna Johnson, Vice Chair Elizabeth Haarberg, Treasurer Doug Gaswick, Secretary Lori Pankonin, Jane Moreland, Dillon Harchelroad, Tyler Pribbeno, Beth Bremer and Brenda Ledall.
Helping leaders transform their hometowns into stronger, more progressive and sustainable communities through philanthropy is a unique approach compared to traditional community development.
In 2002, NCF completed the nation’s first statewide county-by-county analysis of how intergenerational transfer of wealth can inspire endowment building, empower communities and transform Nebraska.
According to the 2011 update of this study, more than $600 billion will transfer from one generation to the next in Nebraska by 2060.
In 51 Nebraska counties, the peak time for wealth transfer is within the next five years. This represents generations of Nebraskans who have worked hard and saved money for the future. Most of these assets will go to heirs, many of whom no longer live in their hometown. Once this wealth leaves the communities, the opportunity for giving back becomes more unlikely.
“Our 20th anniversary is an important time to create awareness of the abundance that exists in Nebraska communities and the power it can have when strategically reinvested,” said Brandon Day, NCF Board Chair.
“If we wait five more years until our silver anniversary to reach out to more people, millions of dollars in bequests to our hometowns may leave our state,” he said.
When communities are empowered to embrace the possibilities of their dreams, through an energized commitment for the future, great things are achieved.
Because of this, NCF was recently selected as the 2014 Outstanding Foundation by the Association of Fundraising Professionals Nebraska Chapter. This award is presented to the foundation that has demonstrated outstanding civic and charitable responsibility and has encouraged and motivated others to take leadership in philanthropy and community involvement.
Through a growing network of ambitious people, Nebraska Community Foundation uses shared ideas, resources and experiences to help local leaders unleash the abundant assets and talents within their own place.