Rural Philanthropy

This post was originally published in Nonprofit Missouri‘s Spotlight on Philanthropy.

Last week, the Daily Yonder featured an article spotlighting one town’s rural philanthropy efforts. The Barry Community Foundation in Michigan has successfully utilized other forms of capital to offset lagging external philanthropy funding and improve their community.

National foundations have been steadily reducing their support for rural nonprofits. According to Nonprofit Quarterly Journalist Rick Cohen, foundation grants for rural development declined from $92.7 million in 2004 to $89.5 million in 2008, at the same time foundation giving increased more than 40%. Cohen is expected to address the National Rural Assembly on the continuation of this trend later this month, and that organization is expected to launch an initiative to increase funding for rural development.

A 2005 report commissioned by the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers (FRAG) found that rural communities have begun to take matters into their own hands in the form of rural philanthropy building. Rural philanthropy-builders focus on “generating resources from within their rural communities to effect community change.” One touted strength of the rural philanthropy movement is that it switches the focus from what a community lacks to what a community has.

FRAG’s website features a Rural Philanthropy Knowledge Center that offers practical information on how to start and manage a rural fund, as well as other useful resources on rural philanthropy.

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